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New Method Helps Detect Sick Feedlot Calves
Bob Judd, DVM, DABVP (Equine Medicine), DABVP (Canine and Feline Practice)
Published: July 29, 2022

One of the most time-consuming and difficult tasks when observing large numbers of calves in a feedlot operation is determining the ones that are sick and need treatment.

Merck Animal Health recently announced the release of a product called SenseHub Feedlot. Bovine Veterinarian Magazine says this state-of-the-art technology is proven to detect sick cattle earlier and more accurately than visual observation.

The SenseHub system features an illuminating ear tag that makes it easy to identify and sort cattle needing treatment.

Dr. Jason Nickell, DVM, PhD, DACVPM, with Merck, adds that this is an innovative new approach to detecting illness in calves, especially those with bovine respiratory disease, the number one cause of death in these calves.

The electronic ear tag tracks behavioral and biometric data in order to monitor the health of each animal. By measuring body temperature with an infrared thermistor, and using an accelerometer (a sensor that measures movement) to monitor the animal’s activity, an algorithm identifies the sick calves.

Pen riders receive a daily list on their mobile device documenting animals needing closer monitoring and a led light on the sick animal’s tag flashes.

Research at an Oklahoma feedlot showed that by monitoring market cattle with the SenseHub system, mortality in calves caused by respiratory disease was significantly reduced. The trial demonstrated significant labor savings, as riders were able to observe three times more cattle using the SenseHub System.

Dr. Nickell said the technology is like having another employee monitor all the calves 24 hours a day.

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