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“Chicken Genetics” and “Internet of Cows”: When Technology Meets Livestock

GOK_Post_CattleLast month, we highlighted 4 ways technology is driving growth on the modern farm, including solutions that track precision and efficiency levels, big data and Google glass’ impacts on process creation and management, and drone capabilities to manage and assist.

While many of these advancements focus on the farm as a whole, steps are also being taken to research and create new concepts with livestock as a core focus. Whether it is research tied to specific animals for the betterment of society, or technology that makes other animals on the farm experience the epitome of comfort, advancements are being made to move agriculture forward with new ideas for fresh perspectives.

Below, we explore a few of the big concepts shaping tomorrow’s agricultural landscape around the world.

Chicken’s Link to African Nutrition and Food Supply

Iowa State University animal science department faculty members are currently exploring the genetic make-up of chickens to discover characteristics critical to species’ survival and viability as a food source.

In particular, researchers are studying genetic components that make these birds resistant to heat, which allow them to maintain peak health in their environment. They are also working to identify components that will keep chickens resistant to a disease powerful enough to kill half a flock in a matter of days.

And the significance of their research? Scientists will use key findings to help farm families in Africa sustain and gain income. Chicken flocks remain cheaper to raise than much larger animals, and take up less space in the field.

Telecom Connects Cows for Calves

FierceMobileIT notes it as “udderly amazing” and we have to admit, it is pretty cool. This year’s Mobile World Congress in Spain showcased sensors as a means to monitor cows throughout mating season, pregnancy and delivery.

Through these devices, farmers are notified of body temperature fluctuations, a chief signal that the cows are “in heat” or that delivery is near. Test cases for the sensors already see a significant decrease in calf mortality, and could be used to control population sizes.

Spa Treatments for Optimal Cow Comfort

Body brushes, pedicures and waterbeds—luxury devices and treatments for humans have officially made their way to our farm friends.

While it may seem strange, the goal is to keep cows as happy and comfortable as possible to encourage peak performance in milk production. According to Canadian dairy farmer Henry Oosterhof, it is a strategy that works well. Oosterhof notes the following as positive returns on the investment he made for his cattle:

  • Stronger milk yields.
  • Lower costs for bedding, as the waterbeds require less.
  • Happy, and more comfortable cows willing to help produce.

Grain Analysis to Keep Cattle at Their Healthiest

Too little grain can leave livestock hungry and in a state of malnutrition, while too much grain can spoil and be a wasted expense. To discover prime grain levels, University of Tennessee researchers are studying and developing technology to determine the level of grain needed to keep cattle healthy.

The hope is that discoveries in this area will help farmers determine how much grain their herds are actually consuming, which will help maintain peak grain levels to cut down operational costs.

Which agricultural technology trends are you following? Share with us in the comment section below. 

Image Source: Prachanart Viriyaraks under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

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