Fitbits for Cows Are Revitalizing the Dairy Industry

Fitbits for Cows Are Revitalizing the Dairy Industry

By Heidi Reidel

The dairy industry has faced its fair share of criticism. With a reputation for a negative environmental impact and inhumane practices, it’s due for a reform. That reform may unexpectedly come from technology that essentially works as a Fitbit for cows.

The device can be obtained from various manufacturers such as startups like HerdDogg and Cowler and are available in the form of collar or ear tag. The monitors record information such as heart rate, temperature, location, vaccination history, and more. This technology allows farmers to look after their herd with incredible precision.

How It’s Saving Dairy Farms Money

No industry can operate in a humane and environmental way without the economic means to do so. Fortunately, these devices can save dairy farms money as well as facilitate humane and environmental practices. One of the ways this is accomplished is through detecting illness. Because the devices record the animal’s vitals, farmers are able to see when a cow is becoming ill and act on it sooner. They’re able to treat the illness earlier and quarantine earlier, saving medicine and lives and, in turn, saving money. By detecting the illness early, they’re also able to reduce the amount of time the animal spends on antibiotics.

The devices also allow farmers to find specific cows faster, which is helpful when a cow is sick or going into labor. The vitals recorded can help farmers identify when a cow is in heat for optimal insemination. And finally, because the devices monitor the herd’s activities, from eating to sleeping, the farmers are able to act preemptively when something may lead to illness.

The Numbers

Each advancement in efficiency is money saved. According to Pakistan-based startup, Cowler, their device increases milk yields by 15%. “Even if you increase the average yield by five percent, it can add $1 billion to Pakistan’s economy every year,” claims Cowler co-founder Umer Adnan. Umer also claims that the size of the global market opportunity is approximately $400 billion. Cowler costs $69 with a $3 monthly subscription fee after 3 months, but on average, it can earn a small farmer an extra $500 each month per cow. The biggest advantage comes from detecting when the animal is in heat. If the heat cycle is missed, the farmer must wait another 21 days which is 21 days of lost milk production, valued at about $400.

Environmental Benefits

The devices also have advantages for the environmentally conscious farmer.

“We will be able to get data on how much a cow ate or drank and be able to put a correlation between productions or yields,” said Sergio Costa, a fourth-generation farmer who runs the Brazilian dairy farm São Bento in São Paulo.

Costa’s farm is the only certified humane dairy farm in Latin America. He also prioritizes environmentally friendly practices. In addition to potentially saving water and food, because the farmer can monitor all this information via computer or iPhone, they can spend less time on tractors gathering the information themselves.

Technological innovation constantly reshapes the agriculture industry. The dairy industry itself is in the midst of quite a few changes in light of shifting consumer needs. Perhaps Fitbits for cows are the revitalization they need.

Image courtesy of

Never miss an insight

Get insights delivered right to your inbox

More of Our Insights & Work

Never miss an insight

Get insights delivered right to your inbox

You have successfully subscribed to our newsletter.

Too many subscribe attempts for this email address.