Dairy cows may look placid, all standing in a field chewing their cud, but actually they’re under a lot of pressure at work and they have a headache and not tonight, honey. In other words, when cows are expected to produce a lot of milk, the stress makes it harder to tell when they’re in the mood — which is a challenge for farmers who want to know whether it’s Business Time. But now, Swiss dairy farmers are testing a device that measures a cow’s body heat and motion, and sends text messages (in German, French, Italian, Spanish, or English) when she’s in heat.
The device consists of a tiny thermometer with a transmitter and antenna, which is implanted in the genitals, plus a motion sensor attached to the cow’s neck. These two devices collate information about the cow’s body temperature and level of restlessness. Normally, farmers would just keep an eye on these things themselves — and some Swiss farmers are still harrumphing that old ways are the best ways and they have no interest in this devil cow vagina chip. But measures that increase milk production in cows, like vitamin supplements, can also decrease signs of estrus. So visual cues may not be enough anymore.
The Swiss care a lot about animal rights — they even have a law that would-be dog owners need to take a class on pet care, which I hope becomes as big of a Swiss-U.S. crossover sensation as their eponymous cheese. So some concerned citizens worry about these cows and their walkie-talkie genitalia, not because they think the tiny sensor will be particularly disruptive, but just because the device’s very existence suggests the cows are overworked and emotionally troubled. But on the other hand, if small Swiss dairy farms can stay productive and solvent, that means they don’t lose out to larger industrial operations, where cows may suffer worse indignities than a vitamin-rich diet and a thermometer up the vag.
This week, the device’s inventor is rolling out Version 2.0. By the iTextFromCowVagina 4S model, we expect a Foursquare checkin function.
- Swiss Cows Send Texts to Announce They’re in Heat, New York Times