UN SDG #2 Zero Hunger UN SDG #2
UN SDG #12 Responsible Consumption and Production UN SDG #12

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Finding A New Way to Treat Cattle

Food demand is poised to increase 2x globally by 2050. 70% of this doubling must come from existing farms. Productivity on today’s dairy and beef farms must improve significantly. Dairy and beef producers have relied on antibiotics as a growth promoter and a primary tool in addressing illness, but consumer pressures are restricting its use. Producers are in need of a better, non-drug solution.

challenge

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Finding A New Way to Treat Cattle

Food demand is poised to increase 2x globally by 2050. 70% of this doubling must come from existing farms. Productivity on today’s dairy and beef farms must improve significantly. Dairy and beef producers have relied on antibiotics as a growth promoter and a primary tool in addressing illness, but consumer pressures are restricting its use. Producers are in need of a better, non-drug solution.
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Nature and Context

Despite impressive advancements in milking equipment, slaughter processing and even bovine genetics, cattle health, nutrition and well-being management remains very similar to how it was done decades ago - relying heavily on INFREQUENT, SUBJECTIVE ANIMAL OBSERVATION. Food demand is poised to increase 2x globally by 2050. Due to limited land, 70% of this doubling must come from existing farms.  As a result, productivity on today’s dairy and beef farms must improve significantly. Dairy and beef producers have relied on antibiotics as a growth promoter and a primary tool in addressing illness, but regulatory and consumer pressures are restricting its use more and more.  Producers are in need of a better, non-drug, productivity solution. Using visual observation and drugs to manage animal health and nutrition is highly inefficient. It only I.D.’s animals once they exhibit physical symptoms and are very sick and likely contagious. This puts the entire herd at risk and the resulting economic losses are staggering.

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Ideas Description

Physical Computing The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that global demand for livestock products will increase by 70% to feed a world population expected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050. To deal with this demand, existing farms will have to improve their productivity significantly, and developments in technology are badly needed. According to Brian Walsh, founder of Texas start-up Vital Herd, 40% of dairy cows fall sick each year at a huge cost to the industry, and ‘early warning or auto-detection can help minimize complications or avoid them altogether’. Vital Herd’s e-pill is a health-monitoring device that could revolutionize dairy farming. The four-inch e-pill is swallowed by the cow and sits in the animal’s stomach for the rest of its life. The device uses sonar to measure key metrics such as core temperature, heart rate, respiration and the contraction rate of the cow’s rumen, as well as measuring PH, volatile fatty acid, estrogen and lactic acid levels. Data is transmitted wirelessly to Vital Herd’s cloud-based herd management software, which analyses the information ready for viewing by the farm manager. If something appears to be wrong with any of the cows, an alert is sent by email or text message. Today, cows are still monitored by human observation, and issues are only spotted when the animals are already displaying visible symptoms. Vital Herd technology means that sickness in cows can be identified much earlier, minimizing the risk of illness spreading and reducing the need for antibiotics. The e-pill could also potentially allow farmers to optimize cows’ diets for better milk production, by monitoring which feeds benefit the animals the most. Vital Herd is supported by New York Angels, Farm Journal Media, and Hendon Manor Farm in the UK.

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