Oct 3, 2012

Brave New World: Cows to send an SMS when in heat



Oh, my God ! This is a Brave New World that even Aldous Huxley failed to predict. Dairy farmers getting a text message on mobile phone from cows. I too couldn't have imagined this. 

The text message is to let the farmers know when they are in heat so that arrangements can be made for artificial insemination or procuring a bull for breeding purposes. Considering that milch cows in Switzerland and for that matter in Europe and America are in terrible stress as a result of which there is a significant drop in the reproductive activity, it is expected the new technology will enable farmers to know precisely when the cow is sexually active, says a news report in New York Times (Swiss Cows send texts to announce they're in heat, NYT Oct 1, 2012. http://nyti.ms/QmdZe2).

The device is undergoing tests and would be available soon in the market. According to the news report it's use involves inserting a thermometer with a tiny transmitter and antenna in the cow's genitals. I am not sure how the animal right's activists are going to perceive the new technological development, but a private company in Switzerland is getting ready to market the product.

Only a few days back, speaking a conference in New Delhi, I was talking how dairy farms in Europe (and the West for that matter) have a computer chip on the strap along the neck of the cow, which comes into contact with a sensor on the wall when the cow puts its head in the feed bin at the time of milking. This tells the dairy owner of the body weight of the animal and how much feed and proteins it requires, and only that quantity of feed comes out. So, let us be clear. The cow is the most food secure animal on Earth.

Now with a transmitter fitted in the cow's genitals, cows are going to be monitored for its heat cycle. Poor cows, even their sex life is now getting restricted. Gone are the days when cows would roam free in the meadows, with the bells around their neck clinking. It has become so mechanized nowadays. Cows are nothing more than milch machines, and of course have more or less become a staple food for a society that claims to be civilized. I am sure the cows must be cursing us for putting them in such an ordeal.