It doesn't prevent industrial dairy cows from being packed into small quarters, but the CowDetect RFID tracking system at least allows farmers to keep track of animal health and schedule milking and fertilization for maximum productivity.
The system, developed by Danish firm Smarterfarming, uses RFID tags and readers to analyze eating patterns and movement to catch signs of illness early. For example, cows that are about to develop ketosis—a common disease among cattle bred for high production—eat less. Eating pattern and movement analysis can also be used to figure out when individual cows are going into heat—information that ensures successful pregnancy.
The tags are already being used successfully by a number of Danish farms. CowDetect's upfront cost of $511 per cow for a farm with 200 cows isn't anything to scoff at, but farmers save up to $500 per cow each year thanks to lowered labor costs and increased productivity. And while CowDetect can't make industrial farming any less gruesome, it does keep milk products from diseased cows off store shelves. Fortunately, a similar product already exists for beef cattle—TekVet's system uses RFID readers attached to poles or walls on cattle production lots to keep track of cattle health.