Wisconsin diary farm pioneers virtual fencing with innovative cattle management

In a groundbreaking development on a dairy farm in northeast Wisconsin, innovation meets agriculture with a first-of-its-kind virtual fence.

The Van Wettering Farm, which is using this system, could be changing the game for heifer grazing.
Conservation agronomist Andy Kiefer sheds light on the innovative process.

“A collar is fitted onto those dairy heifers, and then the animals go through a training period to understand the correlation between audible cues and then a negative stimulant. And then once the animals get trained on that, we’re able to digitally draw a boundary on your app on your cell phone, and that’ll contain the animals within that boundary, so no physical barriers are needed,” he explains. “The animals can be completely controlled with audible cues.”

Kiefer also highlights how this technology acts as a guardian, alerting farmers to potential health issues or injuries among their herd.

“The labor savings is probably number one. Grazing sensitive areas or maybe an area where you don’t have a lot of fencing to begin with, like areas that are tough to fence, whether it’s hills or areas of trees and things like that. And then we get to limit the fencing infrastructure if you don’t have it already. Two other things would be the peace of mind in knowing where your grazing cattle are. If there’s a thunderstorm at night or something, and as a farmer, you just get nervous, like are they okay? You have the ability to pop open your app and see where they are located at that time. And there’s also the benefit of it telling you if an animal’s not moving, if she hasn’t moved in a while, so that could give you an alert if she’s sick or she got injured or something,” he adds.

All together, Wisconsin’s dairy industry creates 157,000 jobs.

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