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GEA CowView Locates Cattle Via Active RFID

The solution uses Zebra's ultra-wideband tags and readers to track the location and behavior of dairy cows, to enable farmers to better manage their herds.
By Claire Swedberg

Zebra's UWB Dart RTLS tag, worn on a cow like a necklace, generates a very short RF pulse with a wide bandwidth signal at 6.3 GHz. It offers a long communications range—more than 300 feet, in fact, under conditions offering a clear line of sight between a tag and a reader. The solution can read more than 5,000 tags per second, and has a low power drain, thereby enabling a seven-year battery life.

The Dart transmits a unique ID number twice a second, says Adebayo Onigbanjo, Zebra Technologies' senior product marketing manager, via a signal complying with the IEEE 802.15.4f standard. Zebra sensors installed on a barn's ceiling receive that signal, he explains, and then forward the read data to the CowView software.

GEA's Keld Florczak

With the CowView software, farmers can view each cow's location and behavioral data in real time, thereby helping them locate a specific animal when needed. The software also stores data regarding that cow, including its health and movement history, which could indicate her present health, or that she is going into heat—meaning she could be inseminated by a bull and thus begin producing additional milk. The cow's movement data, along with that of her reference group, can also be compared with the animal's movement history, in order to identify health or behavioral changes.

To date, the CowView system is being employed in Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark. According to Zebra, among the farms that have tested or deployed the solution is a Danish dairy farm operated by Asger Christensen. On that farm, the technology, including the mobile app, is being used to identify where individual cows are located when workers seek them.

GEA officially launched CowView at EuroTier in November 2012, and reports that it has already seen interest from within the European market. Further launches are planned in 2014 and beyond, to markets outside of Europe.

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