Venture capitalists have invested £3 million (around US$4.8 million) in a business that uses a wireless-connected collar to tell when cows are in heat.
Keeping track on when individual cows are in oestrus (heat) can be a complex affair with large herds. Mistakenly think a cow is in heat and you not only waste efforts and sperm for artificial insemination, but needlessly miss out on milk production.
Silent Herdsmen uses an electronic collar to detect signs of behavior that indicate a cow is being in heat, using activity throughout the entire day rather than relying on manual checks by a farmer.
The collars then connect wirelessly to a base station that gathers the data and a touchscreen PC that displays the data. All the equipment is designed to be rugged enough to survive in a farming setup, meaning you don’t need to worry about taking a laptop into a cowshed.
Farmers can also hook a smartphone up to the system and get an alert as soon as a particular cow is in heat and ready for insemination.
The system also lets farmers categorize each cow based on how many times they have been pregnant and then set variable sensitivity levels for each category. The more pregnancies a cow has had, the less dramatic the physical changes are during oestrus. The varying levels are designed to get the right blend of catching the signs of oestrus without being hit by false alarms.
The data gathered by the system can also give early warnings about cows that may be in poor health.