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Cool Cows: App Keeps Cattle Comfortable and Profitable

August 5, 2013

MU researchers look to partner with industry in marketing the ThermalAid  smartphone app and expanding its capabilities.  The current version monitors beef and dairy cow heat-related stress.  When farmers are alerted to stress they quickly intervene with more water, shade and/or fans to alleviate discomfort and maintain productivity. In the future Don Spiers, animal science professor, hopes to track heat-stress through sensors placed directly on cows and other livestock.

Story by: CAFNRnews

A new product that can help animal farmers reduce billions of dollars in heat-related losses was recently released by the University of Missouri.

ThermalAid is a smart phone app that monitors heat-related stresses on beef and dairy cattle and alerts farmers when there is a problem. The app also recommends which intervention strategy will be most effective.

“Cows are like the rest of us,” said Don Spiers, professor of animal sciences at Mizzou’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, and who led the team that developed the app.  “They slow down in hot and humid weather. When stressed by too much heat, they stop eating, and thus fail to grain weight or produce milk.”

Hot weather means big losses for farmers. “Each summer, the dairy industry loses $900 million nationallyin productivity and the beef industry $400 million. And that’s data from 2003 when the industry was smaller and summers less intense,” Spiers said.

Inexpensive App

The 99 cent app receives temperature and humidity data from the weather service according to the GPS location of the user.  The farmer tells the app if it is beef or dairy cow, if it is in the barn or outside, if it is on the pasture or feed lot, its health status, and other information.

With that, the app calculates the animal’s Temperature Humidity Index, or the THI. If the THI is not stressful, the app shows green for that cow.  If heat stress is an issue, the color goes to yellow and then orange. Red indicates a life-threatening condition. More…