Cows herded by remote control… the most fun you can have on a farm?

Biotechnology, Headphones / Earphones, Weirdness


After his recent campaign to clear up the clearly criminal practice of battery chicken farming, I’m pretty sure mad-as-a-march-hare celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall will be gearing up for a brand new TV series over the latest news that farmers might soon be corralling cattle using radio-controlled bovine headsets.

Researchers from the Department for Agriculture in the good ol’ US of A have put their thinking caps on and designed a high-tech cow-hat that sits over the cow’s ears and allows the controller to corral the individual remotely, using sounds funneled directly to the ears.

Nicknamed the ‘Ear-A-Round’ by hi-tech cowboys working in New Mexico, the wireless contraption has stereo earphones which transmit unpleasant sounds (dog barks and snake hisses) directly into the cow’s ear canals. By alternating from ear to ear, the remote-controller has the ability to ‘drive’ the cow in the direction he wishes them to go; and in the instance that a sound fails to moo-ve an unresponsive heifer, then the headset simply resorts to ‘kicking’ the steer into action by shooting small electric shocks into the back of it’s skull. Which is all very nice and humane.

Immediate concern has been voiced that the new technology will result in a hundred grizzled Marlboro men standing in line at the Job Centre come Monday morning, but not so, says Dean M. Anderson (‘Ear-A-Round’ inventor) who insists quite lucidly that the focus is now upon shifting the cowboy’s mentality from that of ‘daily toil and hard physical labour to a greater psychological understanding of bovine behaviour’. Right. And cows might fly.

I guess, on a serious note, the technology does have some obvious benefits, particularly for struggling farmers working in vast areas of farm land (such as in the Americas, or Africa) where the ability to control cattle over such incredible distances is extremely time consuming and difficult. This technology could potentially allow farmers greater time for concentrating on the actual management of their farms, rather than spending weeks on a horse, riding through the country, movin’ em on, herdin’ em up, movin’ em out, ridin’ em in, cutin ’em out.. Rawhide..

That said, before you get the impression I’m somehow recommending the use of this technology… I would sincerely like to see it tested first on Mr. Dean M. Anderson – and see how he likes being hissed and barked at day after day, before being unceremoniously slaughtered, and subsequently eaten with fries and a milkshake. I think i’d find that all quite a-moo-sing.

[via Core77]

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Ryan Weir
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