ROBOTIC COWBOYS have been made real.
In an industry first, global agribusiness Cargill announced they had developed a robotic cattle driver in the hope of improving animal welfare and employee safety.
Operated from a catwalk, the robots are designed to move cattle from from the pens to the abattoir.
Click below to watch the Cargill robot in action
Developed under Cargill subsidiary, Cargill Protein, the prototype was developed over two years, with input from multiple sources, including beef plant employees, engineers and equipment supplier Flock Free.
Colorado State University, professor of animal sciences, Temple Grandin said she worked on the project, providing input on animal welfare.
“The robotic cattle driver developed by Cargill is a major innovation in the handling and welfare of farm animals,” she said.
“This device will lead to huge strides in employee safety while moving large animals and reduce the stress on cattle across the country.”
Cargill said the robot uses waving automated arms, blowers and audio recordings to move cattle in a desired direction.
“The robots can operate in rain, snow or mud, with no delay in daily operations,” a company spokesperson said.
Cargill, Nebraska beef plant general manager, Sammy Renteria said the robot had been tested at sites in Pennsylvania and Nebraska, allowing the company to determine a design and operational attributes that would effectively improve animal welfare and employee safety.
“The average bovine weighs almost three quarters of a tonne, and our plant processes several thousand head of cattle daily,” he said.
“This innovation provides a much safer workplace for our employees and allows them to develop new technology expertise as they manage and operate the robot.”
A company spokesperson said the robotic cattle drivers are currently being implemented at Cargill Protein beef plants in the U.S. and Canada.
“Cargill believes the robotic cattle driver has multiple applications for improving animal handling and worker safety across livestock and poultry supply chains and is working toward making them available for use throughout the industry,” they said.
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