posted on 2021-11-28

For Cows

Sara Cravatts, reporter at The Hustle, has the scoop:

[A smart collar for cows could revolutionize farming.] A high-tech system that can control your farm from your phone? Holy cow! New Zealand agtech startup Halter is bringing farming into the future with GPS-enabled solar-powered collars for dairy cows that connect to a smartphone app. The collars gently vibrate to lead the cows, and the company says cows can be trained to navigate using the collar within 4-5 days. Virtual fences keep the cows in designated areas, and audio cues from the collar will alert cows if they’re nearing a fence – a short pulse will stop a cow from exiting should they keep moving. Total automation over cows’ movements allows farmers to save 20-40 hours per week and increase pasture utilization by up to 10%.

There is no end to the clever stuff of which our species is capable. We all know that cows by their nature are rebellious and subversive animals – they destroy everything in their path that isn’t rock or metal; they refuse to go where we want them to unless we make them; in spite of ten millennia of domestication they stubbornly retain their love for the outdoors – and so it is about time our brightest minds set to work on properly subjugating them. We certainly have the God-given – or at least traditionally sprung – right to do so. Why else would the word cattle be of the same Latin root as chattel and capital? I for one think that Halter’s technology, while perhaps a small step in technological terms, is for humankind a great leap forward! What’s more, it is an inspiration to all of us. Cattle, whether they are pulling ploughs or carts or lactating or merely growing meat on their bones, are tremendously productive forces. It would not surprise me to learn that the only animal more productive – and less obedient – is Homo sapiens. An enterprising person might even suggest that devices like Halter’s would be put to good use around the necks of other animals too, even if it would inevitably lead some genius to the idea of using them on humans. Yes, friends, I think we have a great opportunity on our hands. You could even speculate – although of course I do not – that, if Halter’s devices were used on humans, it might not be such a bad thing. Humans – and this bears repeating – are far more subversive and unruly than cattle, and more productive too. They no longer need to see military forces to fear them, nor read laws to obey them, nor believe their leaders to follow them, so why should they need to touch walls and fences in order not to stray? It would be foolish of us not to consider every possibility. Businesses could reliably corral their employees into the office on time every day, the police could bring suspects in for questioning without lifting a finger and, most promising of all, cinemas could banish at once anybody who talks during a film showing. Imagine how much time this would free up for all our managers and bureaucrats! Imagine how much less congested our streets and crowded our shops! And this is not even to mention the absolutely liberatory potential it would have for child rearing. We demanded full automation – this is it! Who hasn’t longed for spiritual guidance? Let me tell you, a gently vibrating collar is as close as it’s going to get. Rejoice!