USA – The American agro-corporation has developed industry’s robotic cattle drivers, first in the industry to promote animal welfare and improve employee safety.

According to the company, the robots substitute human activity as they are designed to move cattle from pens to the harvest area, minimizing stress to the animals.

The robots are operated by employees from a catwalk located above the pens, promoting safety of those who work in the cattle yard.

They use waving automated arms, blowers and audio recordings to move cattle in a desired direction and are not limited to rain, snow or mud.

The prototype was developed by Cargill Protein in collaboration with animal welfare experts including Grandin, beef plant employees and engineers from equipment supplier Flock Free.

“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 operation was implemented at the company’s U.S. and Canadian beef plants after a successful testing at Cargill’s Wyalusing, Penn., and Schuyler, Neb., beef processing facilities.

Cargill said the robotic cattle driver can be used in cattle and poultry industries and its application will be expanded to other sectors in the industry to improve animal welfare and worker safety.

“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.”