How the "Internet of Cows" is Transforming Livestock Farming in Europe

01 Nov 2023

Smart farming is a new approach to farming that utilizes cutting-edge technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), drones, and robots to optimize sustainable agricultural production and reduce waste.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a technology transforming the agriculture industry by providing farmers real-time data on their crops, livestock, and environment. IoT involves using sensors and data analytics to monitor and control soil moisture, temperature, nutrient levels, and the health and behavior of livestock.

Through the "Internet of Cows" or "connected cows," IoT is making its way into livestock management applications, improving animal welfare and boosting productivity.

In this blog, we will explore how IoT is transforming smart farming and how it is being applied in European agriculture.

Advantages of IoT in Smart Farming

"Internet of Cows" refers to outfitting cows with IoT devices such as wearable collars, wearable tags, and battery-powered sensors. The data received wirelessly through these IoT devices helps farmers track and monitor their livestock's real-time health, behavior, and movements.

Real-time data on the cows' health and behavior can help farmers detect illnesses or diseases early. For instance, IoT devices display a rise in a cow's body temperature, which indicates an infection from a fever. With this information, farmers can effectively treat them, preventing further complications. Similarly, if a cow exhibits signs of stress or discomfort, the farmer can take steps to alleviate it, such as adjusting their diet or environment.

Through the "Internet of Cows" or "connected cows," farmers can monitor milk or dairy production. For instance, farmers can identify less productive cows and adjust their feeding or milking schedule to help them produce more.

Accurately predicting the optimal time to inseminate the cattle and identifying the genetic lines that produce the highest milk yield can significantly enhance efficiency and productivity in the dairy industry.

The Tech Behind Europe's Connected Cows

IoT sensors can be attached to different parts of the cow's body, such as the ankle, tail, neck, hooves, and stomach, which provide information to help farmers increase the efficiency and productivity of their herds.

Machine learning is applied to individual cow monitoring to improve efficiency and productivity, including predicting when a cow should be inseminated, and which genetic lines produce the most significant milk yields. Moreover, some IoT projects in European farms include reducing mortality rates in cows during calving and monitoring dietary health and temperature through telemetry systems.

 Several initiatives are being used in European farms to increase efficiency and productivity in the agricultural sector, such as:


Connecterra, a Dutch software start-up produces IoT trackers attached to cows' ankles or fitted as necklaces that monitor the movement patterns, duration of walking, and peak fertility phase known as oestrus.

Connecterra employs its software application, 'Ida,' to receive sensor data. It is analyzed and can assess seven distinct behaviors of every cow in the herd, such as health-related issues and heat time. Ida allows farmers to simulate the impact of different factors, such as relocating barns or altering bedding, on the possible yield. Ida also creates a model of "best practices" based on successful farming techniques used in other successful and productive farms.


Moocall, an Irish company in collaboration with Vodafone telecoms, has developed a system to reduce cow mortality rates during calving by placing a palm-sized birthing sensor on the animal's tail. Moocall's IoT-powered sensors monitor and analyze tail movements initiated by labor contractions to measure when a cow is about to give birth and send an SMS alert to the farmer approximately one hour before the delivery.

In the UK, over 110,000 calves and 50,000 cows die annually due to birth-related complications, so Moocall’s technology could significantly improve the welfare of cows and reduce losses for farmers.

Well Cow

Well Cow, a British company, created Bolus. This telemetry system monitors a cow's dietary and digestive health through an acidity monitoring device inserted into the rumen, the animal's first stomach. This telemetry technology is used to sample biomarkers in milk as it is being developed, allowing for early detection of health problems in individual cows.

Lely Industries

Lely Industries NV is a Dutch agricultural machine and robot manufacturer in the Netherlands. It develops IoT-powered automatic milking robots, which collect data from electronic identification cards and transponders attached to cows. The automatic milking robots monitor cows to detect when they are primed to produce more milk, alerting the owners who can adjust the cow's diet to facilitate lactation.


U-blox, a Switzerland-based AgriTech firm, provides IoT-based solutions for livestock monitoring and tracking using sensors and devices such as ear tags to collect animal data, which is then transmitted to a cloud-based system for analysis.

The European smart farming market is growing significantly with such growing interest and heavy investments in innovative farming applications. According to BIS Research, the Europe smart farming market was valued at $3.99 billion in 2022 and is expected to reach $8.42 billion in 2027, following a CAGR of 16.09% during 2022–2027.

Challenges Being Faced

Implementing a system that artificially controls and predicts an animal's birth, life, production, and death could be controversial in a market increasingly favoring small-scale organic produce.

Many European farmers, particularly those in rural areas, may not have access to reliable internet connectivity or the technical expertise needed to set up and maintain IoT devices. Managing big data can be overwhelming for farmers as they may struggle to identify meaningful insights. Moreover, as more sensitive information about cows and their health is collected and shared, there are concerns about data privacy and security.


IoT-based solutions, or "the Internet of Cows," can revolutionize dairy production, ensuring a sustainable future for both farmers and the planet. By providing real-time data on animal health, activity levels, and feed intake, farmers can make data-driven decisions about managing their herds, which can improve efficiency and productivity and reduce costs.

With continued investment and innovation in IoT-based solutions for livestock management, we can look forward to a future where agriculture is more sustainable, efficient, and productive than ever before.

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