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Internet wireless sensor to beef up cattle health

Alberta Research Council : 26 June, 2006  (New Product)
Increased production, profitability and effectiveness for ranchers, veterinarians and feedlot operators will soon be possible through new a wireless internet sensor technology being developed in Edmonton.
This technology marries the real time power of the Internet to wireless collars and ear tags on cattle, and will help farmers find and treat health issues in their animals quickly and with precision. This is the first cattle health monitoring system ever developed to deliver information in real time.

Ovistech Corporation is developing the real-time intelligent software with key assistance from the Alberta Research Council Inc., Precarn Incorporated, Harding Instrument Co. Ltd., Xanantec Technologies Inc. and the University of Alberta.

This technology, called the Feedlot Animal Remote Sensing project, is currently being field tested near Thorsby, Alberta. Early indications show the technology will be an effective tool in managing animal health. 'There have been several instances where the system has detected a decline in an animal's health before the feedlot operator did,' says Lloyd Osler, President and CEO of the Ovistech Corporation. 'This means animals will receive treatment faster and producers can track disease outbreaks, which will reduce losses and costs for the producer.'

The Alberta Research Council Inc. supplied its expertise in sensor technology and managed the $500,000 project on behalf of Precarn Incorporated, a national, independent not-for-profit company that supports the pre-commercial development of leading edge technologies.

'The FARM project is an outstanding example of the public and private sector working together to address a fundamental need: the health and security of our food chain,' says Osler.

Osler expects to have the FARM technology commercially available for the dairy industry in six months, and in 12 to 18 months for the beef industry. He also plans to extend this technology to applications in many other industries such as industrial plant management, environmental and asset management, security and healthcare.

The solution uses low-power radio frequency technology to transmit sensor information from the animal to a network-connected server where the information is stored and analyzed in real-time. This information can then be accessed anywhere via the Internet and used by a feedlot operator, rancher, veterinarian or a third party in their decision-making processes. The operators control what information is released and to whom, which protects the privacy of the farmer, while allowing for the selective sharing of information.
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