Cattle breathalyzer helps feed-efficiency, tracks methane output

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A machine tracking metabolic gases from a ruminant animal helps cattle producers measure an animal’s feed efficiency and detect some illnesses before the symptoms are displayed.

The system uses 18 sensors to measure methane and carbon dioxide emissions from a cow’s nose and mouth. The data is automatically processed to find what the animal has been eating and what’s going on in the rumen. Co-owner Pat Zimmerman says the system allows farmers to see efficiencies.

According to Prairie Business,Zimmerman says there’s a direct correlation between dry matter intake and methane production. By identifying cattle with high residual feed intake producers can see if feed quality changes over time and can breed the most feed-efficient animals. The system can help determine the time to sell cattle by displaying when an animal’s rate of gain tapers off.

The GreenFeed system attracts cattle with a tone and light calling animals to pellet bait. Once the cow’s head is in the machine, it’s RFID tag is tracked and data is recorded. Each animal is tracked three to five times per day.

In addition to tracking feed-efficiency, the system can alert producers when animals have select health problems, such as acidosis, before symptoms occur by showing when an animal records a sudden drop in the amount of methane emitted.

Prairie Business reports there are 18 GreenFeed machines in fields across the world with 12 more likely to sell by this summer. The system starts at about $40,000 with some models selling at $70,000. Zimmerman plans to make the system affordable for producers and is considering a lease option for feedlot operators.

Click here for more information on GreenFeed.



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