Missouri Ag Program Uses Tech to Track Cow Health

An app developed at the University of Missouri could help beef and dairy cattle beat the heat.

by / July 18, 2013

A new app from the University of Missouri' s (Mizzou's) College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources could help temper the effects of heat and humidity on beef and dairy cattle.

“Cows are like the rest of us,” said Don Spiers, Mizzou professor of animal science and app team lead, in a statement. “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.”

According to Spiers, it's an expensive problem. Statistics from a decade ago indicate significant losses associated with hot cows during the summer months: $900 million nationwide for the dairy industry and $400 million for the beef industry.

The 99-cent ThermalAid app is fueled by GPS-based heat and humidity information. Farmers provide specifics about their animals, including whether the cattle are being raised for beef or dairy, general health, barn location and where they feed.

The app in turn spits out a Temperature Humidity Index, a color-coded rating system that warns farmers when their herd may be in trouble. Additional tools, like a timer to help farmers measure a cow's respiration rate and tips to manage the animals' heat stress, are also available to users.

While ThermalAid is already available in app stores, a pro version is currently in the works, which promises more precise weather results based on sensors placed directly on farm sites. Developers also see potential applications for other livestock in future iterations.