New research at Oregon State University is under way to study the factors that influence dairy cows’ comfort level. To do this, the OSU dairy center is using an Israeli-made ankle bracelet that senses when a cow is lying down by determining the angle of her leg to the ground. This is helpful data, because when a cow lies down, the blood flow to her udder increases, which boosts milk production. In theory, the more a cow lies, the more comfortable she is.

“This device is a way for the cows to tell us things,” says Aurora Villarroel, OSU extension veterinarian in the College of Veterinary Medicine, who is conducting the research.

Villarroel and her team attached the device, which is orange and about the size of a deck of playing cards, to about 100 cows earlier this year and began gathering baseline data. The research will look into a variety of factors that affect cow comfort and lying time.

Meanwhile, the pedometers with this tilt-detecting sensor are expected to be commercially available in the United States later this year.