A BLACK and white cow in the UK is sporting a black and white mark of a different kind.
No, you’re not imagining things – a dairy cow in Leicestershire has become the unknowing champion of modern technology by sporting a QR code on its side which passers-by can scan with their smartphones to find out more about life on a dairy.
The cow, Lady Shamrock, is sporting the code as part of a new trial which, if successful, will see people directed to a website (www.thisisdairyfarming.com) where they can learn about Lady Shamrock’s thoughts on her fellow herd members as well as information on more practical things such as milking time, feed and animal husbandry.
Lady Shamrock’s owner Jane Barnes, Southfields Farm, Somerby, worked with UK dairy farmers organisation DairyCo to trial the code ahead of spring/summer, when the farm hosts a lot of farm visits for schools.
“We’re always trying to help people get close to the cows and see first-hand what dairy farming is about,” Ms Barnes said.
“Everybody seems to have a smartphone these days, so we had the idea of letting Shamrock ‘speak’ to visitors who want to find out more.
“The website was created for people to find out more about what we do, so we want to make it as easy as possible for people to find us online.”
A specially-developed spray paint which can be brushed off at the end of the day was used to apply the code.
“Shamrock didn’t seem to mind at all – in fact she lapped up the attention.
“After applying the code the first time, she went out into the field and the other cows couldn’t quite believe what they were seeing, they came up to her to have a look and a sniff.”
Head of the DairyCo communications team Amanda Ball said dairy farming was vibrant and progressive, but research suggested many people thought of it as “old fashioned”.
“With dairy farmers using cutting edge technology such as ‘smart’ collars, and introducing robotic milking and anaerobic digestion to their farms, it’s clear there is a lot more to the industry than meets the eye,” Ms Ball said.
“That’s why it’s important to support initiatives that help challenge those perceptions by presenting the reality in an engaging way.
“We drink billions of litres of milk every year in Britain but may not necessarily reflect on all the work farmers do to make that happen. With the help of Shamrock, Jane is making that journey from ‘field to fridge’ a lot more accessible for people.”
The DairyCo initiative is thought to be the first of its kind in Britain.