Sask. beef club wins contest by improving ear tag retention

The tags piggyback on rumen magnet, providing a two-for-one benefit

The Abbey-Lancer 4-H Beef Club of Pennant, Sask., has invented a less labour intensive way to keep cattle identification records.

For their efforts, members were named the winners of the first ever 4-H Canada science and technology contest.

Pam Heller, the club’s general leader, said the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency information normally found on ear tags and mounted onto rumen magnets can be inserted with a bolus gun into the calf’s mouth.

“The problem with the CCIA tags is (women and kids) can’t put tags in strong enough or hard enough, and they tend to fall out,” she said.

“Whereas if it’s in their stomach, it would never fall out. It would sit there for their life.”

A rumen magnet, which is used to prevent deadly hardware disease in cattle, is heavy enough to sit in the bottom of the stomach.

“We’re just taking one item and making it dual purpose,” Heller said.

The 15-member club, which includes young people from eight to 20 drawn from a 100 kilometre radius, came up with the idea after brainstorming with parents.

Last October, 4-H Canada encouraged youth to submit inventions that would change the world of agriculture.

Charlene Elliott of Kitchener, Ont., won the individual category with her Lugano 100, which cleans free-stall cow beds more efficiently and results in a clean barn and greater comfort for dairy cows. It could also help lower the somatic cell count in milk, which is a quality indicator.

The second place winner was Isaac Boonstoppel of Scotchlake, N.B., for a dairy stall cleaner.

The club and individual winners each receive a $750 gift card provided by Dalhousie University’s agriculture college, with those placing second receiving $250.

The contest, which attracted 20 submissions, was among recent 4-H Canada initiatives aimed at bolstering science and technology programming for 4-H youth.

4-H Canada will also award scholarships for achievement in agriculture at the Canada Wide Science Fair slated for May 14-16 in Fredericton, N.B.

Hardware disease?

Cow magnets are widely used by ranchers and dairy farmers to help prevent bovine traumatic reticuloperitonitis, commonly called hardware disease.

While grazing, cows eat everything from grass to nails, twine and wire. If metal objects lodge in the walls of the animal’s recticulum, surrounding organs are irritated and inflamed. Cattle lose their appetite and stop gaining weight.

In dairy cows, milk output is decreased.

Cow magnets help prevent this condition by attracting stray metal and preventing it from puncturing the rumen and recticulum.



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