Posted: August 9, 2012
Researchers at the University of Missouri have created a new mobile app that can detect the threat of heat stress in cows using nothing more than a smartphone. Called Thermal Aid, it can help farmers detect the threat of heat stress in cows. The app is scheduled for release this fall.
Heat stress can persist for three days before an animal starts eating less. The way University of Missouri researchers see it, that’s three days of missed opportunities to cool down a cow and keep it healthy.
“The thing that dawned on us is that we collect all this data, we publish all these papers [and] go to scientific meetings, but the producers aren’t using it,” says Don Spiers, the project’s lead researcher.
The app is a calculator of sorts. It takes the breaths per minute along with information about the cow’s breed, type, what it’s eating and other basic information. Then, it crunches the data and tells you how the cow’s feeling in this environment. Spiers says it’s surprisingly simple.
“It will automatically pull in the air temperature and humidity so that the producers or student can look at this later to see how hot their animals were under these conditions,” he explains. “Then they can work with [the animals]. They can treat them differently, depending on how stressed they are.”
Farmers often use fans, water misters and shades to help cool down their animals. The app can help them figure out which cows need these things most and which ones don’t. And it looks into the future, too: The app uses weather forecasting to show how the cow will likely feel in a few days.
Source: NPR, by Scott Pham