Wearables aren’t just for humans. Indeed, animals that don’t have a say in whether they wear tracking tech are a far more established market for this sort of remote monitoring.
Case in point: U.K. startup, Silent Herdsman, has spent years building a wearable collar for cattle that’s designed to help dairy and beef farmers better manage their herds by detecting decision-triggering conditions such as when cows are in heat.
It’s just raised £3 million in new funding to help accelerate growth and pick up more customers. Currently its wearables are being used by “hundreds” of farmers in the U.K. & Europe, with “tens of thousands” of collars in use.
The startup — which was originally spun out of the University of Strathclyde — launched the tech in the U.K. back in 2010 (at that time the business was known by the altogether drier and dustier name of Embedded Technology Solutions). This launch came after a lengthy period of R&D, between 2006 and 2009, into condition-based monitoring for livestock cattle — supported by £4.75 million in Scottish Enterprise-backed regional development funding.
The new £3 million investment comes from an investor syndicate led by Scottish Equity Partners (SEP) and comprising Albion Ventures and the Scottish Investment Bank, the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise.
In addition to aiming to grow its global customer base, Silent Herdsman said it will be using the new funding to expand the range of animal health and welfare services offered by its wearable technology.
Its current decision-support platform comprises the behaviour-monitoring collar, which uses proprietary predictive analytics software to detect conditions such as oestrus in cows. Once a condition is identified the collar sends the info to a wireless base station installed on the farm, which in turn sends an alert to a farmer’s mobile or desktop device.
The basic idea is to make it more efficient for farmers to monitor herds and also support taking swifter and more precision actions based on specific animal activity. Silent Herdsman claims its health predictions can result in improvements in animal health, increased milk yield, and enhanced profitability for famers with rapid payback on the tech investment.
Commenting on the funding round in a statement, Stuart Paterson, Partner at SEP said: “There are currently over 1 billion beef and dairy cows world-wide and over 34 million dairy cows in the E.U. and U.S. alone. This number is continuing to grow as countries get wealthier and demand for dairy products increases. As a result, this represents a market opportunity of over $1 billion per annum to Silent Herdsman.
“Moreover, the solution significantly enhances the efficiency of world food production which is of global concern. The company is rapidly making sales both in the UK and internationally, and as a result, SEP is delighted to support the company’s growth plans.”
Robert Whitby-Smith, Partner at Albion Ventures added in another supporting statement: “We are excited about the opportunity to back the Silent Herdsman team and their ambitious growth plans. The animal health monitoring market is expected to grow rapidly and Silent Herdsman’s differentiated, and patented, products are poised to capitalise on this.”
Silent Herdsman holds patent on its technology in the U.K., China, New Zealand, Mexico and Europe thus far.