Food Tech

Halter is creating the internet of cows

The New Zealand-based startup has raised over $60 million since it was founded in 2016.
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· 3 min read

Cows have been domesticated by humans since at least the 9th millennium BC.

Halter, a New Zealand-based startup, is attempting to bring that long-standing relationship into the digital age.

The company creates digital cow collars—solar-powered devices that use IoT to deliver real-time data about the status of cattle to a phone app. The cow collars track a host of metrics, like temperature, fertility, behavior, and general health. The company uses the data to help establish a baseline for each individual cow on a given farm and to train machine learning models that can help detect issues with cow health, according to its CEO, Craig Piggott.

Halter, which has raised ~$63 million in funding since its founding in 2016, is part of the fast-growing world of agtech startups. In 2021, 751 agtech startups raised a total of $10.5 billion, per Pitchbook, a big leap from the previous year, in which 628 firms raised $6.6 billion. And by 2026, Pitchbook forecasts the animal-focused agtech market, comprised of companies like Halter, to nearly double in value to $12.4 billion, up from an estimated $6.4 billion in 2021.

The internet of cows

Piggot told Emerging Tech Brew that the idea for Halter arose from a desire to make farming more efficient. Halter claims on its website that automating herd movements can save farmers up to 40 hours per week while increasing pasture utilization by up to 10%.

“It’s solving that inefficiency on farms,” he said. “It’s moving farming close to the first principles like, ‘How do you grow grass? How do you have healthier cows? How do you balance the environment, animal welfare, and production better? How do you make a net gain for all of it?”

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Halter currently offers its collars through an annual-subscription model, with the price dependent on which tier a customer selects and how many cows are on the farm. As of now, Piggott said Halter is only in New Zealand—one of the largest dairy exporters in the world—but plans to eventually expand into Europe and South America. Piggott declined to share a timeline for product expansion or statistics on adoption, but told us the company is “deploying new farms every day” in New Zealand.

Beyond collecting and crunching cow data, the company claims its devices can also help farmers eliminate the need for fences and other physical barriers to herd the cows.

That’s because Halter’s solution acts like an accessory familiar to many dog owners: It virtually cordons off herds in predetermined areas, which are outlined by GPS systems and enforced via sound and vibrations from the collar. Piggott said the cows typically get used to the boundaries and the collars in less than a week.

Ultimately, Piggott said the collars can help farmers better personalize cow care at scale.

“Every cow is a bit different. You can’t be like, ‘Well, every cow should eat this much,’ because that’s not how it works,” Piggott said. “You’re required to understand the personality or the core behaviors so that you can do good monitoring. That’s across sickness, that’s across fertility, calving, a whole lot of different angles.”

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