Bayer launches smartphone app to help farmers monitor dairy herd health

Dairy cow--Courtesy of the Agricultural Research Service

When a dairy cow is too fat or thin for her stage of lactation, it can cause a loss of milk production, decreases in fertility, and the need for costly drugs to remedy the condition. To monitor the health of their herds, most dairy farmers use a technique called Body Condition Scoring (BCS)--a chore that's time-consuming and that hinges on unreliable, subjective observations.

Enter BCS Cowdition, a new smartphone app from Bayer HealthCare Animal Health. The app, based on Bayer's established 5-step BCS system, allows farmers and veterinarians to measure body condition simply by taking photos of each animal. Bayer developed the app in partnership with the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology FIT in Germany.

In addition to making the process of body condition scoring faster and more reliable, Cowdition "gives farmers a risk assessment of various diseases, the causes and signs with each reading so that they can take appropriate action," said Wolfgang Mueller, head of global marketing for farm animal products at Bayer in a press release. "The next upgrade of the application will allow tracking of the progress of each cow based on its ear tag number, and will prompt farmers and veterinarians for the next BCS assessment according to the cow's score."

Using the BCS Cowdition app--Courtesy of Bayer

Gabriel A. Bó, president of the Institute of Animal Reproduction Córdoba in Argentina, calls Cowdition a "welcome innovation in herd management as it guides and helps farmers enhance the accuracy and standardization of the scoring across an entire herd of dairy cows."

Cowdition is the latest in a string of innovations to emerge from Bayer, which last year ranked No. 5 on FierceAnimalHealth's list of the top 10 industry players, with revenues of $1.8 billion.

Bayer CEO Marijn Dekkers has made no secret of his desire to prioritize animal health as a growth opportunity going forward. In 2012, Bayer paid $145 million for the animal health business of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ($TEVA). And recently, analysts have surmised that Bayer may be trying to sell off its ailing diabetes devices unit so it can fund an acquisition of Zoetis ($ZTS). With the proceeds from the diabetes sale, as well as a planned spinoff of its plastics business, analysts say Bayer could easily pull off a Zoetis deal and catapult itself to the top of the animal health industry.

- here's Bayer's release (PDF)

Special Report: Top 10 animal health companies of 2013 - Bayer Animal Health