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New ‘FitBit for cows’ tracks livestock health, lets farmers know when cows are sick

Wearables are definitely the thing for 2015. The same technology that we wear to track our calories, exercises, moods, and schedules can apply just as readily to other creatures that need fitness or health tracking. Quantified Ag took the same tech you’d find in a FitBit and put it in a wearable that’s perfect for cows.

There are 29 million beef cattle in the U.S., and more than half of them are in feedlots. According to Quantified Ag, one of every five in a feedlot can show symptoms that they’re not feeling so good. This is where cowboys normally just look around from foot or on horseback and rely on their expertise to catch cows that are feeling under the weather.

Instead, Quantified added smart tech to ear tags already used on cattle farms. The tags pick up movement, like steps and head position, as well as body temp. For example, a cow that’s standing in a corner of the lot alone with a lowered head should be pulled for the vet. A rancher might come along in the morning not knowing that cow was standing alone all night, but the tags are like a hyper-vigilant set of expert eyes watching over every tagged individual in the herd. The tags never have to bed down for the night, and they see what might otherwise be missed.

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Managers can use a Web application like a general dashboard, and pen riders can use the mobile app to check individual tags. What this translates to is healthier, happier cows, and happier ranchers. By catching any signs of sickness early, they can stave off vet bills and the unfortunate losses that happen if it takes three days instead of three hours to notice something’s wrong with Bessie. Let’s hope that any savings produced by preventing illnesses that would have been missed if cowboys were still checking herds the old-school way. Quantified Ag is hoping to encourage traditional cowboys to add tech to a human skill set that’s often been handed down through generations of ranchers.

While the infographic of a cowboy at a desk might take some getting used to, it’s the most logical direction for ranchers to take. There’s a lot to do on a working cattle ranch, and giving cows a FitBit equivalent leaves more time to grow the business instead of simply maintaining it. Founder and CEO Vishal Singh said “What [he’s] doing with Quantified Ag will change the beef industry, forever.” Once the cattle barons start using his tech, he’ll be right.