Production models of the "virtual fence" would be considerably
smaller than the prototype this cow is wearing.
Agricultural Research magazine.
The Cow Whisperer Rounds up Cattle with Cyber Cues
By Don Comis
November 20, 2000
Dean Anderson, a.k.a. the "Cow Whisperer," has a cooperative
agreement with Future Segue of Las Cruces, N.M., to develop his patented cow
"roundup" collar for commercial use as a virtual fence.
His computerized collar prototype whispers electronic versions of
the cowboy's ancient "Gee" (go right) and "Haw" (go left) cues into the cow's
ears. It locates cows with a Global Positioning System receiver tuned to
satellite signals. The collar is similar to those used to train dogs.
Anderson is an animal scientist with the
Agricultural Research Service in Las
Cruces. ARS is the chief scientific research agency in the
U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Anderson's invention will not replace cowboys riding the range,
but it will help them accomplish their goals and work on "cow time"--which is
preferable to human clocks when it comes to managing animals and their
behaviors. This reduces stress for both the cowboys and the cows. It also saves
money by eliminating costly fencing.
Ranchers would program future cues based on a cow's demonstrated
preferences and would give cues only when the cow is on the move. Since the
system is automatic, cues can be given at any time of the day or night, instead
of at the rancher's convenience or inconvenience. If a cow ignores all sound
cues, mild electrical shocks follow.
Anderson's collar automates the husbandry principles of better
known practitioners of low-stress animal management, such as Buck
Brannaman--the real "Horse Whisperer," played by Robert Redford in the movie by
To learn more about this research, see
Cow Whisperer and His Virtual Fence" in the November Agricultural Research
Scientific contact: Dean M. Anderson, ARS
Southern Plains Area Range Management
Research Unit, Las Cruces, N.M., phone (505) 646-5190, fax (505) 646-5889,