Cargill Develops Industry-First Robotic Cattle Driver

October 22, 2018 12:55 PM
Improving animal welfare and employee safety—that’s the top two goals driving the creation of the industry’s first robotic cattle mover.

Improving animal welfare and employee safety—that’s the top two goals driving the creation of the industry’s first robotic cattle mover. Cargill says the robots are designed to move cattle from holding pens to the harvest area at processing plants, reducing stress to the animals by minimizing their proximity to human activity.

Employees operate the robots from a catwalk above the holding pens. This also helps improve worker safety.



It took two years to develop the prototype, including help from Temple Grandin, professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University. Significant input also came from animal welfare experts, beef plant employees and engineers from equipment supplier and manufacturer, Flock Free.

“The robotic cattle driver developed by Cargill is a major innovation in the handling and welfare of farm animals,” Grandin says. “This device will lead to huge strides in employee safety while moving large animals and reduce the stress on cattle across the country.”

Robot Controls
Operators say the joystick control is easy to use—similar to playing X-box. (Photo: Cargill)

The machine uses automated arms, blowers and audio recordings to move cattle in a desired direction, and can operate in rain, snow, or mud with no delay in daily operations. Testing was conducted at Cargill’s Wyalusing, Penn., and Schuyler, Neb., beef processing facilities. The robotics are being implemented at Cargill Protein beef plants in the U.S. and Canada.

“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., in a release from the company. “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.”


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Spell Check

Farmington, NE
10/23/2018 09:22 PM

  Love the idea of a robot cattle mover! It will definitely help keep workers safe! And help remove some of the risk of human error from moving cattle in the yards. But like any type of machinery or technology there is still the potential for abuse. Please look at 1.22 - 1.24 of your video. 2 red steers are shown slipping and falling in front of the black steers who then proceed to run over the red ones. In Dr. Grandin's scoring system that's a fail for falling score! Why did it happen? The robot is being guided by a human. What do humans do? Push the cattle too hard and fast. Slow down! Let the robot do the work!

Kobenhavn K, MP
10/29/2018 06:44 AM

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