New tech tags help ranchers track livestock

Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 5:38 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 31, 2023 at 9:37 PM CDT
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GRASSY BUTTE, N.D. (KFYR) - North Dakota is a far cry from Silicon Valley in California, but the state is still making technological innovations of its own. A Fargo company that is looking to revolutionize the livestock industry with their GPS livestock tags.

Imagine using an app on your phone for herd and bull tracking in a region like this.

“Livestock, in their technology nothing has changed in about 30 years. I mean their tractors have changed, just like the row crop side of things. They really have no new technology to automate their cows at all,” said VP of Business Development for 701x, Max Cossette.

Four years ago, Abe Dillman did not even own a smartphone. Now he works for 701x, a software company, and his phone is vital not only to him and his job, but his livestock.

“You know I have a little bit of an advantage when I am missing some cows and some bulls, and you can look at your phone and track those animals down,” said 701x rancher Abe Dillman.

701x sells GPS tags that track animals’ locations. The tags connect to an app on the farmer’s phone which can also be used as a digital calving book.

“So, my brother can wake up in the morning and be like okay, Max calved out these two animals, I don’t have to worry about them. Otherwise, you get this problem of double entry where I record these two animals and my brother records those same two animals a few hours later just kind of gets to be a mess,” said Cossette.

Down in this canyon is where 701x operates a test ranch near Grassy Butte. Dillman uses the products to help him ranch. His experiences help develop new features for the company, such as when a bull went missing and got stuck.

“The bull, unfortunately, couldn’t get up and we lost him. But that was a $5000 bull that we potentially could have saved. So, what we did based on that data and data we have gotten from other animals, we have created a low activity alert,” said Cossette.

From that experience, 701x developed geo fence and movement features. A rancher can set up a digital fence on the app and get alerts when a tagged animal crosses it. Daily steps are also tracked, if an animal hits below 50 percent of their step average an alert goes to the rancher. This feature helped save two cows recently.

“And it showed their daily activity reading and it started to decline, so we gave them antibiotics. And you can see that footsteps pick back up and it did help those animals. I truthy believe it did save two of them,” said Dillman.

It’s an experiment intended to help ranchers rest easy knowing they have a full count of their livestock.