Michigan dairy farm uses fitness trackers for cows on the mooooo - WNEM TV 5

Michigan dairy farm uses fitness trackers for cows on the mooooooove

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Think Fitbits are only for humans? Think again.

On a dairy farm with more than 2,500 cows, technology is of udder importance.

“We’ve been milking cows for over 100 years,” Tom Oesch said. "We feel like automation is the future of milking cows."

Oesch, the dairy operations manager at Swiss Lane Farms, decided a fitness tracker was worth a try.

"The activity trackers you can see they're all on the side there,” Oesch said.

The gadgets on the cows’ neck track weight, daily steps, milk production, even how often she chews and spits.

“The more she's chewing, we know the more healthy her stomach is,” Oesch said.

Corralling all that cattle information electronically has been a big help. Unlike most Fitbit users, these cows aren't tracking their fitness around the clock but someone from the farm usually is.

"I can sort the cows based on production,” Oesch said.

Oesch and his team can quickly see, sort and digest the information right on their phones. Everything from which cows need attention to if one is in heat and ready for breeding.

"If you can use the data to help you identify cows and you don't have to be out disrupting the cows walking through and looking for who's limping and who's laying down and hasn't moved in a few hours,” Oesch said.

Oesch said the cows at his farm are calmer, living longer, producing more and in the hospital less since the addition of the trackers.

It's a testament to technology, if you ask Oesch.

"We've seen a real benefit to their health and everything else because they're just being cows,” he said.

Swiss Lane Farms still has a milking parlor and more than 1,000 cows without activity trackers.                

The trackers are made by SCR and distributed by Lely.

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