Austrian start-up SmaXtec has invented a tool for farmers to remotely monitor the health and wellbeing of their livestock or IoT cows.
Taking advantage of the Internet of Things (IoT), the company is placing connected sensors insides cows’ stomachs to transmit health data over Wi-Fi. The monitor will track the cow’s health and send a text message to the farmer when she pregnant.
It’s already being used in two dozen countries across the world, according to Bloomberg.
Typically, it’s hard to tell if a cow is unwell or when it might give birth. If a farmer suspects either of those things, they will usually have to herd the cow into a cattle crush for a vet to check it over.
SmaXtec supposedly gets around some of these problems by placing weighted sensors – about the size of a hotdog – in through the cow’s throat and into its four stomachs. The device then transmits up-to-the-minute data about the temperature of the cow, the pH of her stomach, movement, and activity. A base station in the barn will pick up the signals and uploads all of the data to the cloud.
If the cow falls ill, the system e-mails the vet, supposedly before the cow is obviously sick. And when a cow is pregnant a text message will be sent to the farmer and his team, so that they can act accordingly.
SmaXtec claims the device should have around four years of battery life, and can predict with 95 percent accuracy when a cow is pregnant.
A global farming opportunity
So, is this device really better than a farmer’s instinct and expertise? “It’s easier, after all, to look at the situation from inside the cow than in the lab,” SmaXtec’s co-founder Stefan Rosenkranz told Bloomberg.
And while the technology might not be able to assess exactly what is making the cow sick, Helen Hollingsworth, a veterinary nurse at Molecare Veterinary Services (SmaXtec’s distributor in the UK), pointed out that things like temperature alarms “make you go and check earlier then you otherwise would. If you can detect illness early, you can start antibiotics earlier and ultimately use less.”
Roughly 350 farms across two dozen countries are using this technology, SmaXtec said. The devices have been implanted into 15,000 cows in Britain alone in the last six years. The setup costs of $600 to set up the network and between $75 and $400 per cow are incurred by the company or distributors, Bloomberg reported. Farmers, therefore, simply pay a $10 a month charge per cow to use this service.
SmaXtec is targeting industrial operations in China, the Middle East and the U.S., but it also has an eye on the 90 million cattle on dairy farms all over the world. It will have stiff competition from the likes of Telefonica and Cattle-Watch, but it seems the age of IoT cows is well on its way.
This is not the first IoT case study to involve cows however, with Fujitsu’s head of insurance Nick Dumonde telling IoB at the Internet of Insurance in June how farmers are increasingly using such technologies to monitor the health of pregnant cows.