How a Fitbit for cows can change dairy farms for the better

Wearable technology like the Fitbit is all the rage amongst tech-savvy fitness fanatics these days, and if a small Pakistani tech firm has its way, something similar may soon take the livestock farming sector by storm.

And I’m not just talking about the kind of location tracking technology Farmer’s Weekly reported on in March, but tracking devices that will enable farmers with limited resources to increase productivity to levels they could only have dreamed of in the past.

E4 Technologies, based in Islamabad, recently introduced a collar-fitted tracking device for cows called the Cowlar, which it hopes will improve Pakistan’s dairy sector’s dismal per cow yield of 4-5 litres/day. According to TechInAsia, E4 Technologies hope to increase milk yields by up to 15% with its affordable, easy-to-use tracking device.

TechInAsia reports the Cowlar constantly monitors the temperature and behaviour of animals through motion-sensing trackers that scrutinise cows’ eating, sleeping, mating and other significant activities.

The data is then fed back into an algorithm at a solar powered base within a 4km range, which determines things like the health of the cow, its predicted heat cycle and any irregularities in behaviour.


Diagram: cowlar.com
I believe the Cowlar’s biggest drawcard is the fact that it’s designed for farmers who do not necessarily have or want access to computers or the Internet. Part of the Cowlar package includes an integrated, solar-powered system that analyses all the data automatically and sends farmers SMSes with recommendations to manage their cows.

More tech-savvy clients can have access to an online dashboard, enabling them to send message alerts to workers and see whether any follow-up action was taken.

Although it’s still under development, E4 Technologies is said to have sold around 1 000 devices by the beginning of April 2016. It costs around US$69 per device (R985 at the time of writing).

Visit the Cowlar website at www.cowlar.com for more information about this exciting technology.

Leopold Malan has more than 20 years’ experience in the IT sector, the majority of those years spent consulting and working within the financial services space. He currently heads up integrated processing, systems and IT division at BrightRock, provider of needs-matched life insurance.