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The Cow Whisperer Rounds up Cattle with Cyber CuesBy 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'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 that name.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org.