The High Life

Fancy Welsh cows treated to Fitbits & kale

By Kitty Knowles 31 January 2017
Summary

Fitbits for cows? We thought we'd herd it all.

Humans, you’ve probably already tried a Fitbit, the smart bracelet designed to count your steps. We’ve even seen animal lovers use them to monitor their obese pets.

But today, there’s new breed of fitness fanatic in the Welsh hills.

Farmers are using the pedometers to track their cattle’s moo-vements.

Monitoring moo-vements

A herd of Welsh Black cows at the Glynllifon campus of Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor (near Caernarfon) have been fitted with Fitbits, a group of researchers have this week revealed.

A total of 20 cows are having their daily step-count measured to confirm to whether it’s best for herds to freely roam the hills during winter.

It’s not just the Fitbits that sets the outdoor herd apart, though.

The outdoor cattle will also enjoy the high-end dining experience of feeding on kale, while the indoor cattle will be stuck with hay (poor cows).

“Our hypothesis is that out-wintered cows will have stronger muscles and ligaments, which will be a benefit at calving [and that these] calves will also be more active following their birth,” farm manager Rhodri Owen told Wales Online.

The superfood kale is not long just for humans.

High-end herds

Those interested in the outcome of the bovine experiment will have to wait to calving in May to confirm the results, but this is likely just the beginning for digital-first farms.

“We want to find out how technology – especially digital technology – can make life easier for farmers, and more profitable,” said thematic officer Rhian Hughes.

Welcome to the future.

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