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Cattle Herding Robots: Advancements with Farming

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Cattle Herding Robotic Technology


Cattle need to spend quality amount of time grazing outdoors and then herded safely back. Herding cattle requires patience, awareness of flight-zone, and understanding cattle behavior. These skills have been passed from man to dogs in many parts of the world over the last few decades.

However, expansion in the size of the herds has increased the work and amount of time spent on the farm by the dairy farmer. They know that proper herd management will have an effect on the potential profits; therefore, farmers are quite eager to implement new technology so as to ease their workload.

This article looks at innovative robotic technology that has the capacity to revolutionize cattle herding and dairy farms.

Image credits: Photos.com. 

Cattle Herding Robotic Technology

Recently, a team of researchers from the Australian Center for Field Robotics (ACFR) and the Dairy Science Group at the University of Sydney, constructed a prototype cow-herding robot called Rover. This robotic cow herder is a four-wheeled unmanned ground system and was successfully introduced into a herd. The cows readily accepted the Rover because it moved at the pace of the cows. This is said to help reduce lameness among the cattle.

Human and canine herders tend to be fast and sometimes impatient causing the cows to be stressed.

The prototype was accepted by the Dairy Research Foundation, which has approved funding for an improved version of the robot.

The new and improved Rover will be fitted with sensors, cameras and LiDAR devices and designed with functions such as:

  • Full automation
  • Ability to differentiate between cows and inanimate objects such as fences
  • Ability to identify cows that are lying down and unable to stand (then alert the farmer)
  • Ability to identify movement of cows in the right direction against simply wandering around.

Researchers have suggested other probable functions that can expand the Rover’s functionality to a new level. Some of them are listed below:

  • Rover can be used to herd the cows to the milking zone one at a time rather than being herded by a human all together. 
  • Apart from herding, it can be used to gather data regarding quality of the soil, detect damage to fences, and check water troughs. 
  • At night, it can monitor the maternity paddock to spot any cows that are due to calve.


As many countries such as Australia are facing a severe shortage of farm labor, the ideal solution would be the application of robotic technologies.

Robotic technologies such as Rover will help ease some of the time-consuming workload faced by farmers today and provide them some leisure time to spend with family.

Dr. Kendra Kerrisk, a dairy researcher and associate professor working with the Rover project, stated that although the research is in its early stages, robotic technologies will certainly transform dairy farming in the coming years. 



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