By Heather Callaghan
The Internet of Things envisions a world where all things are “smartened” and connected to the Internet, always broadcasting real-time updates. Usually people think of appliances, which for me always conjures images of The Brave Little Toaster.
Did you ever carry this idea out into living things? Plants, then animals…then humans? Well, technology from the Internet of Things has definitely crept into the world of plants and is now making its way toward animals. Large-scale farms are particularly eager to use new technical applications – anything to help stay ahead of the changing food system and a shuttering economy.
So now plugged into the Internet of Things, we’ve got appliances, electrical meters, industrial equipment, devices for plants, and…cows. Yes, more and more cattle are connecting through their collars which emit real-time updates about their heat cycles.
The special Wi-Fi connected collar is called the Silent Herdsman, originating from Glasgow, Scotland. Not only does it monitor, but also uses artificial intelligence software to determine when Ms. Moo is in heat. There’s a similar product actually called the MooMonitor but requires more interpretation from the farmer.
In recent years a LOT of thought and theories have gone into methods for the most milk production for the farmer’s buck. This could be anything from waterbeds to relieve stress to biotech help with fertilization to the above-mentioned devices which are intended to capture the exact moment a mother cow can get pregnant again after having just birthed a baby calf.
To a large-scale farmer, it is apparently worth it, because one missed cycle means 5 more gallons of milk per day that could have been sold, to the tune of $315 per cycle. All of these cows are artificially inseminated – one failed attempt, during a tiny window of time that farmers believe happens during the night – is a high price.
Battery power is also no longer a concern. The Silent Herdsman lasts for three years and has actually synced the cow’s personal data to the software whenever it enters into the receiving area, be it a designated field or barn.