EmbediVets’ new device is being called the ‘fitbit’ for cattle and is looking to come to the market as early as 2019 according to the founder Tim Cannon. The idea actually started when Tim and a group of friends were playing around with the idea of implanting trackers into themselves. However a lot of issues were uncovered, including privacy, so the idea was put to bed.
The idea would have stayed dormant unless an Australian follower didn’t advise Tim what was going on in Australia’s livestock industry. Cicada Innovations and MLA Donor Company (MDC) created a program (GrowLab) to help commercialization of advanced technological innovations for the red meat industry.
From this, Tim has set up offices in Australia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania while GrowLab supported the development of the business plan. Initial testing involved 3 cows from the University of Utah being implanted with the device to assess the physical viability. Co funding large scale trials has now begun with commercial producers and research herds at Charles Sturt University and the University of New England.
The device is inserted under the chin using local anesthetic. It will transmit data such as consumption of food and water, number of steps taken and health indicators like temperature and changes in heart rate. This could allow early detection of illness, distress and labour with producers remotely monitoring this. The data will be transmitted to a smartphone app with long term benefits in pipeline including traceability, genetic feedback and identification.
As always, there are continuing issues to be faced including ensuring lifetime viability of the tracker, so that the device stays in place and most importantly, what happens when the animal enters the food chain.