Using IoT to Separate from the Herd: Smart Monitoring of Livestock

Amid an agricultural labor shortage and tight operation margins, farmers discover IoT sensors that efficiently monitor and track livestock location and other activities. To do this, connected sensors gather, export, and display data to an intelligent animal management platform via edge connection. Here’s how HerdDogg, using a Bluetooth® livestock monitoring system, rounds the data up.

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Image credit: HerdDogg

Smart farming technology has been cropping up for several years. From “connected cows” that monitor livestock health, to sensors that track their movement and location, agriculturalists are looking to emerging IoT technology to intelligently simplify mundane tasks and cut costs.

Data from the US Department of Agriculture suggests that workforce numbers have dropped steadily since the 1950s. By the 1990s those numbers dropped 74 percent. Adding to that, farmer income and labor wages, productivity, and output prices have been on the rise, making it vital for farmers to manage labor, tasks, and related costs effectively.

HerdDogg connection device

Image credit: HerdDogg

Smart, Simple, and Sustainable Farming

While other livestock monitoring companies use RFID tags connected to the edge for moving livestock identification and monitoring data, HerdDogg claims it has a better way—through Bluetooth connections. The company’s IoT connected solution includes their DoggTags and DoggBone Bluetooth®-to-cellular reader products that transmit and read data at more than 100 yards (10x the range of RFID tags) with up to 5 years of battery. When DoggTags are attached to the ears of livestock, the on-board sensors inform farmers of potential animal illness or other health events in real time.

 

HerdDogg Founder and CRO Melissa Brandao, an experienced computer technologist, says the company grew out of the need for an easier way to get data out of the field for producers. Reading the ear tags of cattle in the field was too difficult. “HerdDogg stands for data, generator, and gatherer. The idea was to generate the data on the tag in the field and then figure out the easiest, most efficient and cheapest way of getting it out of the field,” she says in a Wyoming Livestock Roundup article

Built for cow/calf operators, dairy producers, feed yards, and research and universities, the HerdDogg platform helps track animals from a phone, provides alerts on missing animals, turns on LED lights to find a breeding set, and monitors feeding and watering behavior. At Shane Schulz’s family farm in South Central Colorado, he relies on HerdDogg for his ranching operations.

“’I’m really interested in the data side of cow-calf operations, and that’s where HerdDogg, with its Animal Record Collection, is a big plus for us,” says Schulz. “To be successful in this business, you need to start capturing data from the moment a calf is born: which cow delivered the calf, was it a bull calf or a heifer calf, and then which shots were given and when?” 

HerdDogg offers varying tags, readers, and receivers designed for different customer needs and environments. The tags, which cost from $10 to $15 each, complete specific tasks for a simple, “plug-and-play” set up and are installed with a basic applicator.

  • YardTag provides geolocation detection for 13 months and offers a Rapid Connection for time-sensitive assessments.
  • TraceTag provides geolocation detection for up to 5 years at the cost of Rapid Connection for long-term solutions.
  • WelfareTag detects and alerts farmers of livestock illness.
  • DoggBone is a compact, handheld reader that functions remotely via Bluetooth® 5-to-cellular bridge. It can read and geolocate DoggTagged animals from approximately 100 yards.
  • DoggHouse powers the DoggBone with attached panels that collect approximately 10 watts of solar power. It’s also easily transportable and lightweight.
  • SkyDogg, a “DoggBone-on-a-drone solution” is for producers that want to efficiently cover more farmland with drones to assist with GPS location tracking, herd counts, or inventory assessment.

Platforms, Marketplaces, and Program Compliance

Users of HerdDogg products can access their data through the Animal Traceability Platform, a platform that automates the data assessment process with smart, cloud-based analytics software. It can harness this information and intelligently predict biometric and behavioral trends to help producers efficiently maintain animal health while facilitating welfare and chain of custody. For added compliance, The Digital Inspector is an auditing and compliance program that further analyzes each animal record to determine high-value outcomes and program certifications.

For a greater scope of local insights and trends, specialty livestock product and service partners and producers are also granted access to “The Grange,” an in-field marketplace that harnesses collective HerdDogg data from other users.

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