Cows and more cows! 2008 is turning out to be the year of bovine-methane-manipulation (poor things!) But things might be looking up for our fat-boned friends with the introduction of the Ear-A-Round, stereo earphones that transmit sounds directly into the cow's ears to guide its movement. Researchers are currently working on developing the prototype which has, as a goal, to "give farmers a much finer control of pastures, finer management of where animals are and a better use of the land," not to mention finding "out what the animals do all day." (Ahem....rock out to Madonna?).
Here are some choice sound bites from the lab:
The technology won't eliminate the need for cowboys; instead, the focus is to shift their labor from physical to cognitive.
Ranchers and cowhands will no longer have to spend time building and repairing fences.
[Lead researcher Dean M. Anderson] has sung his song during training exercises to get the animals to move. If they pause for longer than a few seconds, he will use the song cue to get them moving again.
If the sound cues fail, the headset can give a small electrical shock to move unresponsive cows.
[Andersen and his partner Daniela Rus] also plan to test other sounds as possible cues, including naturally repulsive sounds for cows such as barking dogs and hissing snakes.
Oh...you poor cows...What will they think of next?
AP Photo/USDA Jornada Experimental Range