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Technology Helps Cattle Health Management

As you look across your cattle herd, how soon are you able to identify cows that aren’t well? Early diagnosis reduces not only your risk of mortality but also the number of times you may have to treat a sick animal.  

“Depending on the year, there are 22.5 to 24 million cattle on feed annually, and 1 out of every 5 of those animals display symptoms of illness,” notes Andrew Uden, Quantified Ag. “Connected technology can help reduce that number and transform the way the industry identifies sick animals.” 

Based in Lincoln, Nebraska, Uden, along with Vishal Singh and Brian Schupbach, developed a proactive system to track an animal’s biometrics through an ear tag equipped with sensors.

“Our work actually started in thermal imaging with cattle and drones,” notes Singh. “As we learned more about the cattle industry and what its pain points were, we dropped the idea of drones – for now – and focused on sensors for ear tags.”

Whether on foot, four-wheeler, or horseback, you spend valuable hours monitoring your herd’s health. Oftentimes symptoms aren’t recognized for at least two to three days after an animal becomes ill. With the Quantified Ag system, sick animals are detected sooner.

Connected-Cows

Sensing Sickness

Initially developed for the feedlot industry, tags fastened to an animal’s ear collect and perform analysis of an animal’s biometric and behavioral data. Proprietary algorithms flag any animal showing signs of illness or disease and alert you through a smartphone, tablet, email, SMS, or a secure website. An LED light on the tag flashes to easily identify the sick cow. 

To see the most benefit from the system, feedlot owners and managers need tags to last for six to eight months. While the sensors have that ability, research is being done to increase the life of the battery. 

“The range between the tag and the receiver is about one to two miles, which is why we focused on the confined space of a feedlot,” explains Uden. “Hopefully, 10 years down the road, range will be a different issue. We will continue to adapt our product to make it better.”

Evolving Product

As the technology continues to evolve, the company will look to include other aspects of health like pregnancy. It will also evaluate applications for different types of livestock.

“Once we have this completed for feedyard customers, I think there might be an opportunity to tweak it and make it applicable to other concentrated industries like hogs,” notes Uden.

The Quantified Ag system will include a biometric sensing ear tag and a data analysis tool set that is subscription based and applied on a per-animal basis. 

The tool set includes a private and secure customer portal to see detailed reports and analysis of live or historical data. A smartphone and tablet app are available to round out the system, providing herd health access and alerts from anywhere.

The technology is currently being tested and the company has begun putting it in the hands of beta testers. It hopes to bring the product to market later in 2018.

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