8 December 2000

High-tech heat detector can warn of ill health

MEASURING calf temperatures using a teat sensor, designed by German equipment manufacturer Forster-Technik, could give producers an early warning of ill-health.

The product which won an Innovations gold medal at Eurotier could prove especially useful in group situations, where calves have been brought together from many sources, said the companys Markus Straub.

"Monitoring body temperature tells us a lot about a calfs health, long before any more obvious symptoms, such as diarrhoea, become apparent."

The system works by inserting a high-tech heat detector inside a specially designed drinking teat. The sensor sits on the calfs tongue as it drinks and its temperature is fed back into the computer, to give the rearer a daily check. If its temperature rises much above the normal 38.5C, appropriate action can be taken.

"Early treatment can lead to significant financial gains in the long run," said Mr Straub.

The teat is designed to deliver milk deep inside the animals mouth, away from the sensor, and to minimise heat-distorting air flows around the calfs lips. When the calf stops drinking to breathe in, the device switches off. In this way, it is accurate to a temperature of 0.2C.

The product goes on sale in Germany next March and is expected to cost between £470 and £625.

High-tech heat detectors can give an early warning of a rise in calf temperature, which could indicate ill health before symptoms appear.