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Text messages from the barn

Text messages from the barn

Today I was just laughing about texting and tweeting to my teenage daughter, wondering if it was normal and thinking about how much technology has changed. And then I read an article about texting dairy cows.  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/agriculture/farming/9091611/Farmers-give-cows-texting-collars.html.

I can see it now…

“#Mlking 2day was epic!”

“Hey @FarmerBob:Calf onway! #dairymom.”

It’s the latest in technology being used on dairy farms in Scotland. Based upon the 3D technology used in Wii game devices, dairy cow collars are programmed to detect changes in the cows’ movements that can signal distress, illness, birth signals and more. (It’s all about computer chips and algorithms and behavior benchmarks…very technical stuff.)

The collar sends a text message to the farmers’ cell phone or computer using a wireless network. The innovation in technology is helping farmers keep closer tabs on their livestock, enhancing animal welfare and allowing farmers to be more efficient with their time and money. They can call the veterinarian to deal with possible health concerns faster and be ready to assist with baby calves quicker, too.

One farmer who has outfitted 80 cows with the collars says it’s like having an extra, full-time staff member on the farm; keeping those Holsteins healthier than ever.

It’s just another example of how important technology is to farmers; whether it’s GPS units that help farm equipment understand every inch of every field to aid in efficient planting and fertilizing efforts to temperature-controlled barns that keep livestock comfortable. I talked to Iowa hog farmers during the Iowa Pork Congress last month who receive messages from their “barns back home” to alert them of temperature changes and other concerns. Livestock farmers are always thinking about their animals and such technology allows them to keep constant tabs on their environment and conditions.

Hey! I’m a parent who likes to keep constant tabs on her daughter and I’m thankful for technology that allows me to do that. What did we do without cell phones and text messages….or tweets about what she made for lunch?

We survived, yes. But now we know so much more and can make better informed decisions. That’s a good thing for parents, farmers and texting dairy cows!

Written by Heather Lilienthal
Heather is a communications specialist with the Iowa Farm Bureau.