From the Farm: Radio collars help with managing Holsteins and husbands

Steve has this uncanny ability to disappear at times.

Seriously. He sees no problem with his ability to evaporate.

More than once I have walked the entire farm trying to locate my husband and he’s nowhere to be found. It makes me so anxious. I assume the worst; he says, “It’s no big deal.”

This, I think, is a genetic mutation in farming husbands. I have talked to plenty of my farming friends that have spouses of the male gender and they too have gone into panic mode when said spouse disappears.

It’s like they vanish from the face of this earth. Poof. Gone. I mean, sometimes we would like to have them obliterated, but we women usually get over that feeling. That’s usually about the time the water pipes are frozen or our cars don’t start.

Farm women have this very real fear that a missing husband means he’s met an ugly fate.

We worry that he could by lying in the cow yard, having been trampled by a cow that thought he was getting to close to her baby calf. (I don’t know of too many farmers who keep bulls these days.)

So, what I am getting at is that I think it rather rude that my husband just seems to be eliminated at times.

Such was the case Wednesday morning.

There were plenty of things on our plate for the day. Internet access was scheduled to be established in our barn office.

Instead of having to save our test-day data onto a jump drive on Steve’s computer in his office and then taking it out to the barn computer and uploading the information, we will be able to hit the download button on the computer in the barn.

It’s all about efficiency around here.

Also, last week Friday, Zach and I spent an hour or so putting radio collars on our cows. We thought maybe they wanted to listen to classical music during their down time. Just kidding. These “necklaces” have little boxes nestled under their necks. These boxes contain itty-bitty computers that “track” our cows.

We installed software on a new computer in the barn that receives the information via a responder in the compost barn. So at any minute, information is flying over our heads from the compost barn to the milking barn.

We will be able to tell how much time a cow spends walking around, inside the barn. This will tell us if the cow is in heat and needs to be bred. So, if the records indicate a certain cow has spent more time running around in the barn overnight than she has lying on the bedding area, we know something is up and her hormones are making her love crazy. (Makes me think of teenage girls for some reason.)

The exact opposite can also be gleaned from this particular program. Before a cow calves, her activity is supposed to drop way off.

So, if a cow is close to calving and records indicate she may have hiked to Searles and back, we know we better get her into the calving barn. If she has been lounging on her bum all day, she may be close to delivering.

I believe we will be able to check this information from any type of device that has Internet access. I mean, I could be having my pedicure and looking at the records for our cows!

Hey, I may be on to something.

If these cow necklaces work so great at tracking the activities of cows, maybe they could be used for tracking the activity of previously mentioned husbands.

It wouldn’t be that bad for them. The necklaces would fit around a husband’s waist without any problem. It would just look like a fanny pack. The men don’t have a clue that fanny packs were a fad for about one day and they will think they are styling!

I am going to talk to Steve about this brilliant idea.

For questions, or comments, e-mail me at

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