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Virtual Fence Could Modernize the Old West

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the too-strange-for-a-topic-icon dept.

Biotech 216

Hugh Pickens writes "For more than a century, ranchers in the West have kept cattle in place with fences of barbed wire, split wood and, more recently, electrified wires. Now, animal science researchers with the Department of Agriculture are working on a system that will allow cowboys to herd their cattle remotely via radio by singing commands and whispering into their ears and tracking movements by satellite and computer. A video of Dean Anderson, a researcher at the USDA's Jornada Experimental Range at Las Cruces, NM., shows how he has built radios that attach to an animal's head that allow a person at the other end to issue a range of commands — gentle singing, sharp commands, or a buzz like a bee or snake — to get the cattle to move where one wants them to. Anderson says it would cost $900 today to put a radio device on one head of cattle, but he says costs will fall and the entire herd wouldn't have to be outfitted, just the 'leaders.' Much of the research has focused on how cattlemen can identify which cattle in their herds are the ones that the others follow."

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216 comments

Re-adapted Tech (5, Interesting)

slifox (605302) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272357)

"working on a system that will allow cowboys to herd their cattle remotely via radio by singing commands and whispering into their ears and tracking movements by satellite and computer"

Looks like they're finally re-adapting that technology once reserved only for our most esteemed government leaders ;)

The animal trials usually come before the human trials -- but I don't know if I'd consider any of our current heads of state still "human" ...

This sounds laughably impractical (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272379)

I used to work with cattle on my uncle's farm when I was a kid. They are dumb animals. They do dumb things. Anytime you try to move them, they do all kinds of stupid shit. I've seen them get "trapped" in fencing, in ditches, even in bushes and trees. So, here we have a system, which costs $900 for every cow it's put on (and that "just put it on the leaders" line sounds like wishful thinking to me). If it has some sort of mechanical malfunction or loses signal in some mountain pass, you could lose a lot of cattle. If you move the cattle and some of them get trapped in a ditch/underbursh/etc., you could lose a lot of cattle (since no actual person will be there to see it and help them). And if the cows simply ignore or get confused by the signal you're sending them, you could lose a lot of cattle. And every cow lost is a lot of money lost.

Basically, this seems to me like a very high tech, expensive way to so something that's much more effectively and economically done the old-fashioned way. Ranch-hands are relatively cheap, smart, and effective. And handful of good cowboys can move a surprisingly large herd.

This new system, by contrast, sounds unreliable, dumb, and VERY expensive. When you're talking huge herds, $900 a head is a LOT of money. Even $900 a "leader" is a LOT of money. Certainly, its tracking function would be useful to keep an eye on the herd (but I think they already have those sorts of systems already). But the idea that you can move cattle remotely with the push of a button, with no actual cowboys on hand, seems to me like the dream of someone who has never actually worked with the smelly, stupid things.

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (5, Funny)

magarity (164372) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272443)

You've taken it way too seriously - in reality, the whole 'cattle herd' thing is an allegory for political parties. Read it again and it'll make sense this time.

Makes sense (1)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272543)

I've noticed that my representative needs the occasional cooing in his ear to stop him from throwing a fit and puking all over himself.

Re:Makes sense (1)

EchaniDrgn (1039374) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273561)

I've noticed that my representative needs the occasional cooing in his ear to stop him from throwing a fit and puking all over himself.

I thought Ted Kennedy was a Senator.

Agreed, Tag Story "wormtongue" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25272577)

... except ... for cattle.

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273151)

Replace "cattle" with "tour group" and it also makes more sense.

I look forward to idea of cattle out roaming the pastures while having smooth jazz broadcast to them.

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273413)

We already have radio control for the mass flocks of humans, coupled with buzzing bee sounds, 'singing', and harshly spoken orders.
 
I take it you've never watched Thoth on 'America's Got Talent'? [youtube.com]

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25272447)

"I used to work with cattle on my uncle's farm when I was a kid. They are dumb animals. They do dumb things."

You don't watch South Park do you? If you did, you'd know they are the smartest animals on the planet!

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (0)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272537)

Apparently, the aliens are so threatened by cattle that they kill and mutilate them. They must not see us as nearly that much of a threat. We just get anal probes.

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (5, Funny)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272725)

Great...so now..instead of cattle rustlers, you're gonna have cattle hackers???

Man..that is seriously going to fuck with good western movies from now on. How do you string up the rustler/hacker when the bad guy is in Russia, and you're in TX somewhere?

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (2, Insightful)

ijakings (982830) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272973)

Like all hacker movies, invent some tech that would make absolutely no sense even if it were possible throw in alot of buzzwords about TCP encryption and some stuff your just making up.

Sounds like a winner to me.

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272497)

Uh, as someone forced to labor around these animals, I second your dubiousness. I have stared into the void that is the eye of a bovine creature and the void also stared back.

From trying to help one get untangled from a barbed wire fence to watching one fry itself on an electrified fence to watching one stare confoundedly as a vehicle killed it at 55 mph to ... did I mention you can't lead them down a set of stairs?

Well, now stealing the cattle is not only going to be easier but there's going to be bonus cattle where not only do you get the $800-$1000 a head but you also get a $900 device!

Intelligence of cows (5, Insightful)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272699)

How much bovine stupidity can be attributed to human preferences? Have we bred cattle to make them more stupid? I'm sure wild bison and buffaloes are a lot sharper. I expect it's our fault; when did you last send back a steak in a restaurant because it wasn't intelligent enough?

Re:Intelligence of cows (2, Insightful)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273065)

I'm sure wild bison and buffaloes are a lot sharper.

Citation desperately needed.

Re:Intelligence of cows (3, Insightful)

dilvish_the_damned (167205) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273203)

You need a citation to back up the claim that he is sure?

Re:Intelligence of cows (5, Informative)

superbondbond (718459) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273067)

I'm not so sure wild bison were any smarter. Read about the historic buffalo jumps that the native Americans used in hunting...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffalo_jump [wikipedia.org]

Re:Intelligence of cows (1)

dilvish_the_damned (167205) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273265)

I'm not so sure wild bison were any smarter. Read about the historic buffalo jumps that the native Americans used in hunting...

What? Never been stuck in traffic before?

Re:Intelligence of cows (5, Insightful)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273099)

I don't even think they were bred for stupidity, it's just that they were bred with no preference for stupidity or intelligence, it's irrelevant to reproductive success. The rest is just natural genetic drift.

I'm looking at you, humanity.

Re:Intelligence of cows (1)

AhtirTano (638534) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273131)

So what do you suggest? Tear down the fences, expose them to the dangers of the real world off the ranch, and let natural selection raise their intelligence again? I'm not sure ranchers would be able to afford the kind of loss that would take; and we probably wouldn't be able to afford the steak anymore either.

Re:Intelligence of cows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25273247)

and what good does it do for intelligent cows if you eat them all before they can reproduce anyway?

Re:Intelligence of cows (1)

Noexit (107629) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273595)

Native Americans used to slaughter wild bison by herding them off of cliffs. I think that counts as "dumb".

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25273215)

... did I mention you can't lead them down a set of stairs?

Wait...so the cows...they're Daleks?

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25273263)

I have stared into the void that is the eye of a bovine creature and the void also stared back.

That sounds like my last trip to McDonalds. It's bovines serving bovines to bovines. Bovines all the way down.

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (4, Funny)

dilvish_the_damned (167205) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273333)

did I mention you can't lead them down a set of stairs?

If I had a dime for every time I hid a cow in my bedroom...

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (5, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272553)

Perhaps. But you sound like a whole lot of people whose jobs have since been replaced by automation.

Seriously.

For example, it was once said that vinyl-cutting CAD/CAM systems would never replace the journeyman sign painter (yes, signs used to be painted by hand!). You could NEVER do all the stuff that a guy with a brush and some paint could do.

Yet, today, you pretty much can. There are very few people left who actually know how to layout and paint a sign by hand like an old pro. Most sign companies don't even have a hand lettering person on staff anymore.

This might be in its infancy, but it is possible -- even likely -- that one day, something along these lines might actually be made to work well enough to replace experienced ranch hands.

If a rancher can even eliminate the need for 1 or 2 ranch hands with this technology, in the long-run, he'll save himself a bundle of money.

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (4, Informative)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272643)

I'm not saying it's impossible for a system to one day replace cowboys, just that *this* almost certainly isn't that system. Some things are not only hard to automate, but largely impractical (which is why farmers still hire humans for such tasks as fruit-picking, harvesting lettuce, etc. even though it should be theoretically possible to automate the process).

And if you think ranch-hands make a huge "bundle of money" compared to what it would cost to outfit and maintain a herd full of transmitters at $900 a head, you are WAY out of touch with how much ranch-hands make.

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (3, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272779)

And if you think ranch-hands make a huge "bundle of money" compared to what it would cost to outfit and maintain a herd full of transmitters at $900 a head, you are WAY out of touch with how much ranch-hands make.

Notice I said "in the long run". At first, a rancher might start with outfitting the 'leaders' amd try the tech out. Or they might try it on some small herd on a contained plot of land, or something like that. I don't know much about ranching, honestly. But what I am saying is that that's kind of how things got started in the sign industry -- the CAD/CAM systems that came out at first really couldn't replace a sign painter. And they were expensive. It cost the annual salary of like 3-4 journeyman sign painters just to buy one machine.

But as the tech got better and economies of scale kicked in, you can by a machine complete with software that can power a small sign shop run by a single person for about a couple of grand. Less if you buy used.

So they'd start out with little projects here and there, and slowly but surely everything got automated more and more and more. To the point that these days, there are no more sign painters.

Sign painters figured they'd never get replaced by automation because they had a skill, and there was no way to automate that.

But I'm telling you, even if it isn't *this* tech, a radio-powered *something*, probably combined with other tech, will likely be used to herd cattle around someday.

So people going around emphatically denying that this profession or that profession is 'safe' from automation are most likely wrong, in the grand scheme of things.

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272883)

The difference is one was dealing with paint (inanimate substance) one is dealing with cows (dumb animals), anything dealing with inanimate objects is relatively easy and cheap to automate, anything dealing with animate objects (or irregular objects) is difficult and expensive to automate

Farm hands, fruit pickers, etc. are cheap, the machine that can do their job is unreliable and expensive - come back when the machine is cheaper and as reliable as a farm hand and I will get my AI computer to hire the robotic cowboy ...

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273337)

Dumb animals. You said it right there. Think about it. If we can heard a bunch of supposedly intelligent human beings just by putting up those 'Tense-A-Barrier' things, we can't be that far off from hearding dumb animals. ;)

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (2, Insightful)

Fishead (658061) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273529)

I think part of the problem isn't just the dumb cow (we had a hobby farm when I was a kid), it is the rugged terrain.

If you REALLY wanted to automate your cattle herding process, a good first step would be to flatten your land. Take out all those dangerous canyons, trees, fallen logs, boulders, and gopher holes. If your acreage is in Saskatchewan, most of the work is done for you if it is in the Peace River BC area, a bit more work. Here you might want to employ an army of robots with shovels and dynamite.

I say just hire a couple mexicans. Trying to automate everything is stupid. And yes, I am an automation technician presently building an automated mouse trap in my basement.

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (2, Insightful)

Swizec (978239) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272921)

The only professions safe from automation are programming and different kinds of designing. At least until we get creative computers, but that's not very likely in the foreseeable future.

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (3, Funny)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272983)

Yes, those we outsource instead.

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272709)

There are very few people left who actually know how to layout and paint a sign by hand like an old pro.

Lots of Brazilians disagree :-) Last time I was in Brazil for my work, the whole city was full of hand-painted signs. It was actually very nice to see, and often done very professionally.

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272809)

There's a fundamental difference between painting a sign and herding cattle. One deals with an inanimate object, the other deals a stupid living creature.

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (1)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272857)

You have an interesting point, but having precision in sign making via CAD/CAM isn't really the same as introducing technology devices to herd leaders.

Cattle don't require that level of precision and my limited experience at friends' ranches has shown me that they truly are dumb animals.
My favorite question was "Why do you have fences around that sinkhole?" "Cause they'll walk into it and fall to their death"
No wonder painted cattle guards on roads work...

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (1)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272999)

I think we're going about this all wrong. We're trying to mechanize nature.

What we should be doing is making the cows' nature more convenient, rather than trying to control it.

We should genetically modify cows so that they don't have legs or organs. They should just be growing pieces of meat that don't move. Then we should fill up skyscrapers with them!

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273371)

Or make the cows smarter? No, nix that. They'd start to fight back as soon as they saw a hamburger.

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (5, Insightful)

mysticgoat (582871) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273301)

Please re-read the the posts you are responding to and pay attention to the content.

Persons with expertise on the ground in handling cattle are saying that moving the herd is only one component of the job, and one of the less difficult components, at that. Protecting the animals from external threats and from their internal inabilities to cope with common environmental traps are economic necessities.

Until there is a remote way of intervening when a cow worth several hundred dollars gets itself crosswise to a barbed wire fence, being able to remotely direct the herd offers no benefits. These parts of the job will require a sophisticated all terrain robot capable of identifying a cow in trouble, immobilizing the large animal without hurting it, cutting and repairing barbed wire, delivering an antitetanus jab, and so on. And then you might as well save a bunch of money on the cowhead radio receivers by just putting a loudspeaker system in the robot.

Yeah, at some point technology might replace the cowboy and his horse, but radiohead cows are not going to do it. And robotics has a long ways to go before a person who knows how to safely immobilize a ton of living hamburger with a few feet of rope is in danger of losing his job.

To put this in perspective: a little before Fulton figured out how to make a steam engine small enough to fit inside a boat, there were some persons that history has forgotten who were experimenting with steam powered bicycles. Radiohead cows sound an awful lot like steam powered bicycles. The developers might be shooting their arrows more or less in the right direction, but unfortunately there doesn't seem to be any actual target anywhere near where their arrows are going.

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (2, Insightful)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272587)

I wonder if all the breeding that was done to get the best cuts of meat didn't bother to check if the offspring were dumber than their predecessors.

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272683)

My uncle use to say that that the dumber the cow, the more milk it produced.

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272985)

Of course. Dumb cows can never remember if they've been milked or not, so they just keep on producing milk, just in case.

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273543)

Hey if they're stupid enough they might even be happy to be eaten.

Is there anything unethical or immoral about eating a cow that wants to be eaten?

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (4, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272849)

While your reasoning seems sound, it fails in real life. I have worked in the telcomms industry for some time and have personally witnessed the use of pagers in waterproof wrappings, taped to a collar around a couple of cows, for the express purpose of telling them when it is milking time. Inside of 2 weeks the cows were reliably answering the pager call. Given the right motivation, even dumb cows can be convinced to do the 'right thing' most of the time. Using some technology to reduce the amount of manpower required to convince them is nothing but good.

Pagers, BTW, would not cost $900 per cow, and empirical evidence suggests that only the lead cows really need the pager around their necks.

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (3, Interesting)

camelrider (46141) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273073)

I don't see a lot of cattle since I moved to Alaska, but years ago I grew up among a lot of them. Dairy cattle fifty years ago surely didn't need a pager to tell them when to come in to be milked! They were there without fail twice a day, most of them even entering the barn and poking their heads into their accustomed stantion.

If an individual didn't show up on time, you'd better go find what's the matter with her.

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (4, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273547)

Just as a note, the dairyman that I had to deal with wanted to mod the pager for louder beeps and longer battery life. He had enough cows to overwhelm his milking barn and took them in turns from different fields. The pagers made a huge difference for him. We did the mods - encased it in a 'waterproof' project case, ran battery and speaker connections external from the pager, and all was good. He got about 1 month battery life and effective management of the cows at milking time. I extended my trip to watch the cows come in for milking several times. One of the many odd stories I've collected over the years.

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25272885)

I own a small herd of goats and compete in herding trials with my border collie. One man and a good dog or two can move stock very effectively.

As for this tech. replacing fencing, I don't think just effecting leaders will stop a other individuals from crossing over to the "greener grass". Even sheep known for tight flocking, would spread out if no pressure is being applied to the whole herd.

The basically sounds like "GPS based invisible fence". I don't think you can extrapolate that most stock can learn like a dog.

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25273013)

I've seen them get "trapped" in fencing, in ditches, even in bushes and trees.

How does a cow climb on to a tree and get stuck there. You sure, you're not mixing up your ,"cat", story with the ,"cow", story?

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273183)

How does a cow climb on to a tree and get stuck there. You sure, you're not mixing up your ,"cat", story with the ,"cow", story?

It was the cow that tried to jump over the moon. The landing was a bit off.

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273351)

In a tree doesn't mean up in a tree, a cow could try passing between two trees that are a bit too close together for it to fit through and it gets stuck.

Re:This sounds laughably impractical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25273617)

...But the idea that you can move cattle remotely with the push of a button, with no actual cowboys on hand, seems to me like the dream of someone who has never actually worked with the smelly, stupid things.

The real economics question is can you move them with fewer cowboys on hand not none? And...is the "fewer" enough to make it economically viable? It may not be a better way to move cattle but if someday it is a cheaper (TCO-style....so counting lost cattle) way it will eventually get used.

Rustlin' (3, Funny)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272437)

So what happens when a posse of rustlers comes along with a roll of tin foil?

Re:Rustlin' (1)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272623)

So what happens when a posse of rustlers comes along with a roll of tin foil?

Screw hustling the cows, at $900 a pop for the radios, why not just take *them*?

Re:Rustlin' (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273081)

The price of a full grown steer is far higher than that.

I look forward to hacker cattle rustlers or even worse, armies of hijacked cows terrorizing the west. I hope the Dept of Homeland In^H^HSecurity is looking into the likely scenario of a terrorist taking over our cattle!

Re:Rustlin' (3, Funny)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272635)

You are right, we should be mounting laser cannons on them.

Re:Rustlin' (1)

JaBob (1194069) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272989)

I want to see when some high school kid breaks into some system on a large ranch, then proceeds to send all the cows to their school or whatever they want to disrupt. If this happens, is that enough to get the FBI involved, just because it's electronic? How could someone (other than the group trying to sell this to ranchers) think this is a good thing? Do they seriously think it will have the capabilities to replace a proper border collie?

Re:Rustlin' (2, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273009)

The last thing we need is land sharks.

Re:Rustlin' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25273085)

Fun fact: in C&C Red Alert 2, if you put a cow inside an IVF it will get a super-strong laser cannon. :)

A first step (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25272445)

"For more than a century, politicians in the West have kept sheeple in place with fences of barbed wire, split wood and, more recently, American Idol. Now Sheeple researchers with the Department of Homeland Security, are working on a system that will allow politicans to herd their sheeple remotely via radio by singing commands and whispering into their ears and tracking movements by satellite and computer. A video of Richard Dean Anderson, a researcher at [Secret Base], shows how he has built radios that attach to a sheeple's head (called bluetooth headsets) that allow a person at the other end to issue a range of commands -- gentle singing, sharp commands, or a buzz like a bee or snake -- to get the sheeple to move where one wants them to. Anderson says it would cost $900 today to put a radio device on one person, but he says costs will fall and the entire population wouldn't have to be outfitted, just the "troublemakers." Much of the research has focused on how DHS can identify which sheeple in their herds are the ones that the others follow."

I'm upping my tin foil.

Does this work on congressmen/senators? (2, Insightful)

andy1307 (656570) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272463)

We need something like this for our congresscritters so we can whisper commands into their ears..you know, like "Don't vote for the bailout".

They're called lobbyists. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25272733)

Granted, the current generation of the technology is primarily analog, and is phenomenally expensive to operate. And, regrettably, the notion that mass-producing them would REDUCE cost has proven wildly inaccurate. But we've got top people on it, and I'm sure we'll work all the kinks out soon.

Re:Does this work on congressmen/senators? (1)

KGIII (973947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273127)

;) I suspect you have the thinking backwards. They want these so that they can put them around the necks of the citizens to keep us controlled and herded at a lesser cost.

Re:Does this work on congressmen/senators? (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273589)

Dianne Feinstein got 90000 calls against the bailout and she still voted for the bailout. Those weren't whispers.

It only works if you make sure you punish them by not voting them back in.

Sure could make rustling some cattle alot easier. (1)

StJohnsWort (260566) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272483)

Just hack in and send them where you want. Yippie Ki Yay...

It's just like an iPod... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25272529)

...but with less homosexuality.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Suddenly (5, Funny)

Technopaladin (858154) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272563)

All these Bluetooth wearing peoples existence becomes clear...they were the prototype for Cattle management. Truly the work has flipped upside down. I would love to see Rattlesnake, Bee, growling pumped into those things while people cruised around.

Rawhide (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272585)

I call dibbs on the patent that interfaces to the cows to allow internet operation.

Keep movin', movin', movin',
Though they're disapprovin',
Keep them doggies movin' Rawhide!

Move 'em on, head 'em up,
Head 'em up, move 'em out,
Move 'em on, head 'em out Rawhide!

Of course... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25272611)

...the plan assumes that the "leaders" are statically chosen by the heard.

It might negatively impact "that's the cow I want to follow around!" feelings when your leader starts hearing voices in it's head and jumping at snakes that aren't there.

Be prepared... (1)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272639)

to see a flash-mob of cows on your lawn anytime soon...

Take me to your leaders (2, Interesting)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272655)

I got a laugh from "Much of the research has focused on how cattlemen can identify which cattle in their herds are the ones that the others follow." I have also worked around cows in the family beef operation, and all one has to do to identify the "leaders" is watch the cows.

"Old West" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25272669)

So they're inventing a time machine to travel back to the Old West? Wouldn't it be easier just to try this in the modern West?

Military applications (1)

chord.wav (599850) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272703)

Imagine a big, pissed-off herd taking Bombay or any other city in India. Who would dare to stop them?

Screw Halo 3... (4, Funny)

PinkyDead (862370) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272741)

I wanna play World of Warcow.

Re:Screw Halo 3... (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273047)

Just play a Tauren character.

Secret Cow Level (1)

Dareth (47614) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273061)

Your in luck, there is in fact a World of Warcow [wikia.com] level hidden in Diablo 2.

Re:Screw Halo 3... (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273347)

Forget that, I'm much rather play Mario Cow

Re:Screw Halo 3... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25273489)

There is no cow level.

Anderson said he got the idea (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272743)

from observing the modern American political process

Mooooo (3, Funny)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272763)

Moooo!
- Please, come back to the stable!
Moooo!
- OK, you force me to use brute force!
Moooo ... bzzzzzz ... MOOOOOO!
- I told you!

Oh Oh YES (1)

MajorDick (735308) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272765)

I can see it now, herds of High on Mushroom teenagers running around the fields with the gear on their heads.

Wouldnt you ?

This is JUST BEGGING for a New Beavis and Butthead episode......

Re:Oh Oh YES (1)

KGIII (973947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273179)

Actually I was hoping for a return of Gary Larson.

Re:Oh Oh YES (1)

Atheose (932144) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273285)

This is JUST BEGGING for a new Southpark episode......

There, fixed it for you. This isn't 1998 dude.

Wooo USDA-ARS; I work for them! as in right now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25272835)

Wow, I just visited that ARS site back in May (for an IT conference)... btw I work for USDA-ARS (the people doing this work); just at a different location (not in NM).

Oh and for the record, make sure the bus drivers don't do 90mph in the desert (actually on the Jornada Test Range) and break any oil pans this time!

virtual farce cripples once great nation (-1)

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Cats! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25272953)

I can imagine inside each cow's head: "We get signal. Main screen turn on."

Oh hey (1)

kjzk (1097265) | more than 5 years ago | (#25272977)

How long till they start doing this to us? In the name of preventing terrorism of course...

Maybe we can do something like this for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25273001)

Republicans!

Cattle will follow the leader... (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273037)

Much of the research has focused on how cattlemen can identify which cattle in their herds are the ones that the others follow."
.

Cattle will follow the lead cow who takes them where they want to go. Therein is the flaw to the plan. If the identified leader follows the commands of the cowboys and goes where the other cattle do not want to go, will the other cattle then continue to follow that leader?

Just what they've always wanted... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25273091)

to be able to say, "Hold on, I'm getting a call on my cow phone!"

And then (1)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273117)

The cowboy controllers can be outsourced to India.

Honk and Dog (1)

toddhisattva (127032) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273143)

Ten-cent RFID ear tags make sense.

Training cattle to respond to a multitude of radio commands is laughable.

But they can learn at least one useful trick. If you honk your horn every time you bring fresh hay, they learn that sound means "food."

So we already have a cow tractor beam.

The pressor beam is your dog.

I've got to wonder, has our litigious society made field trips impossible? So much "research" is done by people who have never been outside.

what happens when the network goes down? (1)

buttle2000 (1041826) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273149)

Here in Spain there is an area that is experimenting with a crop irrigation system that works via cell phones.

If these kind of things work and get widely accepted, farmers will eventually lose their traditional how-to.

My worry is about what will happen the day the network goes down. In th event of a local or global catastrophy , networks and electricity grid may just be some of the first services to go.

That may lead to a scary situation where not even the milenium old skills like agrigulture and animal husbandry are commonly known.

Singing? (1)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273173)

Singing? I can see it now: iTunes for cows! Or worse,
""Are you losing cows due to dropped calls to your bovine herd? Download your cattle's favorite ringtones from the Mozy Network! Mozy: Less deadspots than the other cattle network!"

And it's such a clean environment... (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273259)

...conducive to well functioning electronic equipment.

Anyone else smell (other than the cows) a technical maintenance nightmare?

Although if you can get them going in a conga line or spell out words, it might be worth it. Make a good halftime show.

Just a matter of time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25273273)

before we see farm-hand out-sourcing to India.

Sirens of Titan (1)

sagaciousb (1379425) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273277)

This reminds me of how they controlled the martian soldiers in the Sirens of Titan. Soon, maybe we'll be controlled by ice cream truck noises, buzzing bee sounds, and kitty-in-distress samples. It's really just easier to not eat meat.

Where's the iCow adapter for the iPod? (1)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273355)

Laugh now, but when your iTunes music store has a "cattle herding tunes" section on it, where you can download rattlesnake sounds and cowboy whispers, it'll be a goldmine with the farming community!

wow (1)

indy_Muad'Dib (869913) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273377)

McGuyver made a machine that can control cattle out of 3 gum wrappers a DIVX player and a old WebTV box?

oh thats RICHARD Dean Anderson?

nevermind then.

Great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25273447)

Now we'll have *sshole cattle walking around with bluetooth headsets talking loudly to themselves and annoying the rest of the herd. Of course, on the upside, now when I see some suit wandering into Starbucks I'll be able to imagine him heading soon to the slaughterhouse.

Mad Cow Syndrome (1)

An anonymous Frank (559486) | more than 5 years ago | (#25273633)

Just think of the impact to the tenderness of the meat: them cows 'll be lookin' left 'n right all day, all stressed-out, trying to figure out where them bees or snakes' be hiding at!

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