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Researchers Use Electronics to Aid Cow Conception

January 23, 1992

PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) _ Ranch romance just won’t be the same.

Researchers are using a computer to find out when cows are in the moo-d for love.

The new bovine mood detector determines a cow’s most fertile period with an electronic chip and sensor, Phillip Senger, a professor of animal science at Washington State University, said Tuesday.

The device has the potential to eliminate much of the guesswork for farmers who choose to artificially inseminate their herd, Senger said in an interview.

A cow is in heat for 24 hours and fertile for only eight to 12 hours. She indicates her receptivity to libidinous bulls by ″standing″ for sexual activity.

But the brief period of fertility is easy to miss if a farmer isn’t hanging around the barn.

The mood detector is a pressure gauge linked to an integrated circuit with a memory chip and a micro-transmitter. A wristwatch battery provides the power. It’s wrapped in a stainless steel wafer and encased in rubber.

The device is implanted in the cow under the tail, and activated when she is mounted repeatedly. That doesn’t necessarily mean a bull is present, because ″cows have a certain homosexual nature″ and one will mount another in heat, according to Mike Manwaring, an electrical engineering professor.

The device signals the farmer, who can artificially inseminate the cow or pair her with a bull.

Senger said the project is still in the early stages. The researchers hope to have a working prototype in 12 to 18 months.

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