'Fitbit for cows' helps farmers keep herds healthy - KCTV5 News

'Fitbit for cows' helps farmers keep herds healthy

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Farmers are using cutting-edge technology to produce the food Americans consume. (KCTV5) Farmers are using cutting-edge technology to produce the food Americans consume. (KCTV5)

Farmers are using cutting-edge technology to produce the food Americans consume.

And one of the newest products emerging in the industry is something unofficially nicknamed a "Fitbit for cows."

It's not a fitness tracker, but a hi-tech ear tag that inserts in an animal's ear. A company called HerdDogg developed it in Kansas City with help from the Sprint Business Accelerator and Dairy Farmers of America.

Melissa Brandao is the CEO of HerdDogg, which is based in Denver. She says that the company's "DoggTag" can constantly track biometric data and wirelessly send it to a farmer, allowing producers to monitor a cow's health.

"It's detecting a baseline for individual animals, saying that animal is acting normal or not normal,"  Brandao said.

Similar technologies are emerging throughout the agricultural sector, and many farms already rely on technology that can track livestock production.

Chris Heins’ dairy operation near Higginsville equips each cow with an RFID chip, which they can use to track its weight and milk output. Their system stores data that Heins can then read on his phone.

“When I first got out of college I didn't own a smartphone,” Heins said. “Now it's one of my huge management tools.”

Heins’ family has been farming for six generations. He said his operation has grown from 80 head to 650 in the past few years. He said his family has always taken great pride in the safety and health of animals and workers.

“Through my grandpa and great grandpa you always cared for the cows,” he said. “That's the name of the game. It still is today.”

Changing technology promises to help Heins continue that tradition. He has heard of technology like HerdDogg’s “Fitbit for Cows,” and said he might one day consider implementing a product like it on his farm.

“Each year I'm able to take better care of my cows because of the technology that's offered to us,” he said.

But while technology changes at an exponential rate, he said there is one thing on his operation that never will – the farmer.

“At the end of the day, it takes someone who knows the animal, who can say ‘That girl over there, this is what she needs.’ You need those hands on people, too," he said.

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