NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Pedometers used to boost cow breeding

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionCattle in Aberdeenshire are being fitted with pedometers in the hope they will help with the breeding programme

Beef cattle in Aberdeenshire are to be fitted with pedometers to help farmers determine when artificial insemination should take place.

Studies have found the cattle are more active when their fertility peaks.

The collars are one example being showcased in conferences of how technology can boost productivity.

Although robotic milking and heat detection collars are regularly used in the dairy sector, beef farmers have been much slower to utilise technology.

SAC Consulting said it hoped farmers could realise the potential efficiency improvements that could come from precision technology.

Andrew Gammie, from Drumforber Farm in Laurencekirk, has been using the pedometers for two years but is one of only a handful of beef farmers in Scotland to do so.

'More cost-effective'

He has 15 collars on his herd of limousin cows, which detect movement and send the information to a receiver on the roof of a barn.

The information is processed by computer and when an animal is in heat, he receives a text message telling him to begin artificial insemination.

He said: "For me, when I was building my cow numbers up, I couldn't justify having a bull about.

"This way was a lot more efficient for the way I was working things. It's a lot more cost-effective and just a better management tool."

Technology seminars are being run for farmers in the Borders, Perth, Inverness and Aberdeenshire.

Image caption The pedometer measures how active the cow is and sends a text message to the farmer

SAC Consulting, which is organising the events, stress that technology will never replace good stocksmanship.

However, senior consultant David Ross said that it could provide more information.

He said: "It gives you a bit more data to be able to use and be able to study. It's by doing that, that you'll get the little gains that add up to a big gain in margin at the end of the year.

"With the next generation of farmers that's coming along, most have got a smartphone in their pocket and they're now able to use apps and other bits of kit that help them in their daily job.

"I think we will see a shift that there will be more of this technology used in the future."

Related Topics

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites