University study using ear tag to track health issues

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Researchers at the University of Kentucky are using an ear tag to measure a cow’s motion, finding potentially sick cattle before visible symptoms appear.

The study uses radio frequency technology in an ear tag that’s slightly larger than normal to measure a cow’s temperature and activity levels. Researchers were able to collect data from animals up to two miles away.

Craig Carter, director of the University of Kentucky Veterinarian Diagnostic Laboratory and professor of epidemiology at the College of Agriculture, says data collected on animals 24/7 reveals a substantial difference between healthy and sick steers.

The data allows cattle producers, and veterinarians, to evaluate and treat animals earlier to lower treatment costs and maximize returns.

The research grew out of a Homeland Security Project in 2005 where Carter was looking for a way to electronically monitor cattle health.

“Homeland Security was interested in this because a lot of times, when you’re under attack, animals might be the first to be affected.”

According to Business Lexington, the Animal Monitoring and Tracking System (AMATS) uses an accelerometer, temperature sensor and radio-frequency (RF) transmitting antennae packaged into an ear tag

The study has analyzed up to 100 animals at a time, but Carter hopes the next step is to use the technology on a group of 1,000 animals in an actual feedlot.



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