Cargill introduces industry-first robotic cattle driver
Cargill has designed the robot in order that moves the cattle from pens to the harvest area in order to reduce stress to the animals by minimizing their proximity to human activity.
The robots also reduce safety risks as they are operated from a catwalk above the pens.
“The robotic cattle driver developed by Cargill is a major innovation in the handling and welfare of farm animals,” said Temple Grandin, professor of Animal Sciences at Colorado State University. “This device will lead to huge strides in employee safety while moving large animals and reduce the stress on cattle across the country.”
The company said that it took two years to develop the prototype, with significant input from animal welfare experts including Grandin, beef plant employees and engineers from equipment supplier Flock Free.
Using waving automated arms, blowers and audio recordings to move cattle in a desired direction, the robots can operate in rain, snow or mud, with no delay in daily operations.
“The average bovine weighs almost three quarters of a ton, and our plant processes several thousand head of cattle daily,” said Sammy Renteria, general manager of the Cargill beef plant in Schuyler, Neb. “This innovation provides a much safer workplace for our employees and allows them to develop new technology expertise as they manage and operate the robot.”
The robotic cattle drivers are currently being implemented at Cargill Protein beef plants in the U.S. and Canada. They are manufactured by the New Jersey-based company Flock Free.