Sensors placed on cows’ tails could help save the lives of animals and their offspring during calving season, by predicting when mothers are due to give birth.
The developers of the Moocall calving sensor, which is linked to Vodafone’s Internet of Things (IoT) network, claim the technology could reduce the UK’s bovine mortality rate by as much as 80 percent.
In the UK, more than 110,000 calves and around 50,000 cows die every year due to complications in calving, according to the company. The number of deaths and complications could be reduced by mobile technology which informs farmers how long a cow has been calving so that they can intervene or call a vet if needed.
Around 150,000 calves in the UK and Ireland have been born safely using Moocall’s tail-mounted sensor, which the firm says is “non-invasive”, to send alerts to farmers over Vodafone’s network.
The system also enables farmers to increase productivity of their herds and save money. The average replacement value of a cow is between £1,000 and £2,000, while pedigree breeds can command values of up to £5,000 per cow.
The palm-sized Moocall sensor predicts the onset of calving by measuring specific movements of a cow’s tail triggered by labor contractions. The device sends an audible alert, via Vodafone’s IoT network, to a farmer’s mobile phone when contractions reach a certain level of intensity, usually an hour before calving. An app also allows farmers to manage and monitor multiple sensors.
John Larkin, technology and marketing manager at Moocall, said the technology has been proven to help farmers ensure the safe delivery of a calf while maintaining the wellbeing of the cow.
“It also allows farmers to get some much-needed rest, safe in the knowledge they will receive an alert at crucial calving moments, rather than having to be on permanent watch,” he said.
“Our global IoT platform allows Moocall to remotely manage and monitor every one of its sensors used by farmers, whether they are in the UK or in Australia,” added Ivo Rook, Vodafone’s IoT director. “Together with Moocall, we are pleased to prove how the internet of things can help save the lives of calves.”
Corry Brennan, Simplex regional sales manager in EMEA at satellite comms company Globalstar, told Internet of Business that the advantages of being able to remotely track, monitor and then report on the condition of a herd, coupled with the ability to remotely gauge various other dependent factors such as soil quality, “introduces huge efficiencies for the modern farmer. They can be alerted to various scenarios in advance and save both time and money by not having to patrol and survey.”