When cutting edge technology meets with ‘Innovators of Distinction’ the result should be a product like the one that saves and secures livestock anytime, anywhere, any place.
Peace of mind is an understatement.
Local farmers have been accustomed to the adage, kae tlhoka ka tlhoka boroko, kae bona le gone ka bo tlhoka (roughly, cattle rearing has both advantage and disadvantage).
A proud moruakgomo is every time on tenterhooks, always worried about rustlers and predators that would reduce his herd and render him mohumanegi (pauper).
They also worry that the cattle will stray far until they turn into matimela (strays) who end up being auctioned by councils after causing traffic jams in towns and cities.
A bonafide cattle farmer is always on guard against diseases that attack cattle and in the context of a drought-prone country, famine, which might result from lack of rains, as is the case nowadays.
Innovators from Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada, who go by the name, Wandering Shepherd have come up with an innovation that could be the medicine needed by our farmers here.
The medicine is in the form of electronic gadgets meant to help farmers effectively track their livestock anytime, anywhere and at any place.
All the farmer needs is a cellphone, which these days has reached even the farthest corner of Botswana.
Just as there are cellphones, smart or not smart, in the cities, there are cellphones at masimo, cattle posts and every settlement.
The wireless service providers, just like the wooden pins used to tighten the skin of a goat to dry, have Botswana completely wired.
If you have been interested in farming all along, but are frustrated by the little time you have to share with your beloved animals, your actual home and work, once you have a smartphone you just need to be signed up.
The Canadian company has a subsidiary in Botswana by the name of ‘Innovative Perspective’, which operates from Gaborone.
Their numbers, postal and physical address, appear on a brochure that declares them to be ‘Innovators of Distinction’.
According to the pamphlet, for smart livestock management, ranchers/farmers are allowed to monitor their herds without having to be physically there.
This is through the use of a smart bolus, inserted into the rumen of cows that monitors temperature and location of cattle even those in a free range system like the ones at our cattle posts.
This device helps, among others, to detect illness in an animal and to monitor calving. Among other diseases the bolus monitors and gives an early signal are Mastitis, metris, pneumonia and Foot &Mouth.
Farmers just need a smartphone, tablet, computer or any other mobile phone for the transmission of live temperature and condition of the cow.
The transmission starts with an audible alarm, text and email messages from which the farmer can take notes and hence alert relevant people or experts.
As a result, disease outbreaks can be prevented while the device also ensures the farmer gets to know earlier if his/her cow is on heat.
The bolus uses a radio frequency from a microchip right from inside the stomach of the cow. The benefits from the constant monitoring are: reduced labour costs, reduced overall treatment costs, reduced livestock loss, reduced investment risks, identification of heat stress and milk production.
One of the greatest benefits of the bolus is that cattle rustling can be reduced. Botswana courts are inundated with cases of cattle rustling, with some culprits getting away.
The good thing is that the device comes cheap at only P50 per cow. The bolus has a lifespan of 10 years and is recyclable.