Irish-designed sensor tells farmers when cows are ready to calve

23 Sep 2014

Pictured: farmer and inventor Niall Austin from Offaly

A wireless calving alert device which sends the farmer an SMS text alert when a cow goes into labour was unveiled today at the National Ploughing Championships.

In what its creators Moocall Sensors claim to be a world first, the device warns the farmer when the cow is one hour from birthing to ensure cow and calf are cared for in the event of a difficult birth.

Farmers will no longer need to monitor CCTV or visit calving sheds.

The device, which has so far accurately detected 200 births on Irish and UK farms during the summer, is attached to cows’ tails and uses 3D motion sensors, complex algorithms and embedded machine to machine (M2M) mobile technology.

“We have stress-tested the technology extensively and it has proved faultless,” Moocall’s chief investor and chairman Michael Stanley explained.

“The sensor is fitted to the cow’s tail and activated in a matter of seconds and the robust ratchet strap system means they fit all sizes comfortably. The device is so simple to use and is built to last, they are also fitted with a 30 day rechargeable battery. Users have access to a telephone helpdesk and also an online dashboard to manage multiple devices,” Stanley added.

The result of three years’ R&D

Moocall has been three years under R&D led by farmer Niall Austin from Offaly who lost heifers and calves on his own farm when he was unable to make it to the birth in time.

“Losing a cow and calf during birthing process is heart-breaking and very often completely preventable,” Austin explained.

“Like humans, labour can be sudden, quick, late or unexpected at times making it difficult for the farmer to predict. Pedigree calves in particular are often big and require Caesarean sections meaning both vet and farmer need to be on hand to make sure nothing goes wrong.

“I believe Moocall Sensors will be invaluable to farmers, giving them certainty and peace of mind as their cows near the end of their gestational period. The sensors are easy to use, inexpensive and can be easily transferred between cows – one device is more than adequate to service a small herd of 40 – 50 cattle.”

The Moocall Sensor is priced at €299 and the first 1000 units sold come with free 12 month text and service bundle worth €160.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years