Cattle Ranching Gains from IoT-based Intelligence

Chipsafer has completed two African pilots of its LoRa technology-powered system to locate cattle on large ranches and track their behavior; similar pilots in Europe, South America and Australia are ongoing.
By Claire Swedberg

In 2016, Alonsoperez began testing the LoRa technology and seeking investors to fund its commercialization. With the Chipsafer solution, she explains, ranchers know where the animals are and can receive alerts if behavior occurs outside of acceptable perimeters.

"Cattle theft is a huge issue" in Latin America and Africa, Alonsoperez states. "Other farmers are looking for changes of movement," rather than the potential loss of a cow. For instance, she adds, "They want to track whether a pattern is broken," such as expected movement of cows or congregation in specific areas. Although Chipsafer was initially a hardware company that developed the tracking and sensor device, she says, the company is now testing the system as a complete solution to capture and interpret cattle behavior and manage that data for ranchers on a cloud-based server. According to Alonsoperez, several veterinarians and computer scientists are currently working on algorithms to determine what kinds of data can be collected.

In a typical installation, a Chipsafer device is attached to each cow, either as an ear tag or as a collar. The device comes with a built-in GPS node, an accelerometer and a temperature sensor to track the ambient temperature around the animal. It is energized via a solar-powered battery. Gateways installed around a ranch receive transmission data and forward that information via a cellular signal.

The system collects data that could be used for purposes far beyond real-time movement, Alonsoperez says. "We collect enough data about each cow in the software that we could manage its whole history," she states. "In the future, this information could be provided to the end consumer," along with a record of the entire life and health history of a particular animal, when beef is purchased.

The farms testing the technology worked with Chipsafer to set up geo-located zones that define where cattle are allowed to roam. The software can be programmed to detect if an expected pattern of movement is broken, Alonsoperez says, which could indicate a problem. For example, if an animal is found to have been motionless for a long period of time, that could indicate that it might be ill.

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