Health trackers for cows: thousands of Pennsylvania cattle wearing new technology

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BRECKNOCK TOWNSHIP, YORK COUNTY, Pa. -- Some farm animals getting a bit more high-tech. Thousands of cows in Pennsylvania are now equipped with wearable technology, similar to a fitness tracker.

The devices are used to monitor "moo-vement", health, and wellness, and some farmers say it's saving them thousands of dollars.

Wearable technology has become pretty popular, and now, some cows are donning the trend. Similar to the technology in human fitness trackers, these collars will track when the herd is eating and how active they are throughout the day.

"It has a weight at the bottom to keep it balanced," said Lamar Gockley, the owner of Willow Springs Farm in Lancaster County.

Gockley initially laughed at the idea of a collar, capable of tracking his herd's health.

"The first time I heard of it, I thought, 'how is it going to work?!'" he said.

Now, more than 100 of his cows at willow springs farm wear the technology, and Gockley says it's been a life saver.

"I can't be watching them all day," Gockley explained.

One of the greatest benefits of this technology is that it can alert farmers when their cow isn't feeling well, even from hundreds of miles away.

"They get belly aches, indigestion, just like you and I get indigestion," said Gockley.

An application collects the data from each collar. Gockley can check the app from his phone or computer and select any cow wearing the tech. It alerts him of things like if it's too hot and when it's the best time to breed.

Still, some farmers stick to traditional methods, like Glendora Stump of Stump Acres Farm in York County.

"Usually the men who work with them, milk them, they can tell if they're off on their milk - they don't give as many pounds," said Stump.

Stump, a 50-year farmer, isn't against new technology. There just hasn't been a need at her farm.

"There's so many ways you can find out whether a cow is in heat or whether to be bred or anything. There's patches and things you can put on the cow," she said.

Still, Gockley says the collars have been helpful.

"I've been able to get a lot more calves because of breeding efficiency, so I have more animals to sell," said Gockley.

One of the collars costs about $150 and it costs about $7,000 to install the system at a farm. Farmers who use the technology say it ends up paying for itself because of the benefits.

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