Monitoring cow comfort

Thanks to Sam from Radio York for the chance to talk about “Fit Bit for cows”. The affordability of 3d accelerometers (pedometers) has been talked about for a number of years but it has needed some clever engineering to make the equipment tough enough for the cow, to gather sufficient data, transmit it effectively, hold it in the cloud, process it usefully and then report back to farmers in a simple and meaningful way. The prospects for real-time monitoring of cow comfort and health has never been more real! Thanks go to IceRobotics (www.CowAlert.com) and Omnisense (our original research collaborators) for providing kit for some interesting studies. The main priorities for cow comfort are:

  1. A comfortable (deep, clean, dry and cushioned) bed
  2. Space to roam (or hide if a cow feels off-colour)
  3. Cushioned walkways (rubber indoors, astroturf outdoors)
  4. Cool barns – they are very happy with our January temperatures, and need lots of water, shade and breeze in the hotter summer months
  5. Well-designed feed trough to snack from through the day…and night

Acknowledgement of co-workers: participating farmers, Writtle College (Jon, Holly, Zoe), Essex Uni (Edd), Nottingham University (Jorge, Martin), RVC (Sophie, Jacqui, Charlie), Exeter Uni (Darren)

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