researchers at kansas state university are testing a vitals-recording sensor for cattle that can help you catch and treat diseases earlier. Initial results show the sensor can detect health problems anywhere from three to 14 days earlier than relying on visual observation.

The current version of the sensor, which is placed on the ear and neck, is designed to measure and record an animal’s vital signs, like temperature, heart rate, respiration, blood oxygen saturation and movement. The data are then downloaded to an analysis program, where you can use them to assess individual animal, group and herd health. This information may someday even become part of the national animal identification system to help track diseases or deal with a bioterrorism attack.

Researchers are currently evaluating which types of sensors to use, how to package them, and ways to reduce the cost of the system. Eventually, they plan to transfer the technology to a commercial enterprise.

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e-mail Dan Andresen at: dan@cis.ksu.edu