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New technology helps Arizona cows stay healthy, track exercise and feeding habits

GILA BEND, Ariz. (3TV/CBS 5) – A dairy farm doesn’t look like a Planet Fitness health club, but that doesn’t mean the cows don’t care about their well-being.

Exercise and good nutrition play a vital role in keeping farm animals healthy and producing good quality milk. This is where some unique collars come in. These collars are health monitoring devices that cows wear to track how many steps they take and how they eat, sleep, and breathe. Arizona Dairy Company owner Denton Ross said it was a “fit bit” for the cows. “A lot of us wear watches that tell us how many steps we’ve taken,” Ross said. “They track our calories, what we eat. That’s basically what we do with cows. It’s just a better way to manage cows.

Owner Denton Ross says the health monitoring system has made a huge difference in keeping the cows in shape and maintaining the quality of milk flowing. In total, the Arizona Dairy Company produces about 30,000 gallons of milk per day. More than 4,000 cows at Gila Bend Dairy Farm in Ross are now wearing the devices. This is the latest technology used by Arizona farms to reduce costs and stay competitive.

Veterinarian Michelle Schack said one of the challenges dairy farms have faced over the years is recognizing unhealthy cows before their milk supply drops. The collars allow farmers to immediately identify cows that are walking or eating less, indicating that they may have a health problem. “A healthy animal will be comfortable, relaxed and will produce more milk and better quality milk,” Schack said.

“Cows‚ like many animals, don’t show signs of illness right away. They may feel a little off, but acting normal and walking around, you won’t notice this when looking at her. But if she feels a little bad, her activity will drop a lot,” Schack said. “By knowing these indications through health monitoring tools, we can identify cows earlier and give them extra supportive care to hopefully prevent them from getting sick.”