New electric cow collars scrap the need for fences

The collars guide cows using sound and vibrations.
The collars guide cows using sound and vibrations. Photo credit: Getty Images

Three New Zealand farms are now using electronic cow collars that use sound and vibration to guide and contain individual cows without the need for fences.

The collars are designed by the Kiwi agri-tech company Halter.

Basil the Friesian cow munches calmly in the paddock.

As she moves there's a quiet beep emanating from a collar around her neck.

It's giving her a signal not to wander any further.

Basil's collar, a device designed by Halter, allows farmers to virtually fence their farms and to move cows to the milking shed without a bike or dogs.

The cows are trained to respond to the sounds and vibrations of the solar and battery-powered collar.

Halter's Steve Crowhurst says it takes smarter cows just three days to learn to respond to the cues and an entire herd can be trained in two weeks.

He says the beeps and vibrations are not unpleasant.

'It's just like saying to your children 'no, don't go there' or 'that's ok'."

With an aerial shot of their farm on a cellphone, a farmer can roll out a virtual fence line, by dragging a finger across the screen.

Waikato farmer Pete Morgan can't wait to start using the system with his 600-plus cow herd.

He says it will save staff time and allow him to respond quickly, even from the warmth of his bed, to weather events that could compromise the environment.

"So it pours with rain all night. If I could move all of the animals from the steeper more vulnerable area with the touch of my phone, up into a safer area...I could bring all of the cows onto a standing area, onto a feed pad...I'd be able to do it."

"And it's better for the animals. They don't want to be in the mud and in these difficult why not go straight to the cow, get her to do what you want her to do."

Pete says he won't miss rolling out tape fences at all.

"And shocks, don't forget the shocks."