These Cows are All aTwitter!

News EditorCommunication

Wondering what your cows are thinking? Well, a group of Candain Holsteins is telling the world through Twitter, exactly what they are mooing about. Called “The Teat Tweet“, the project comes from the University of Waterloo’s critical media lab. You can visit this website to follow all 12 Holsteins on Twitter.

“As far as we know they’re the only cows tweeting,” said former LaSalle and Windsor resident Marcel O’Gorman who is behind the University of Waterloo’s critical media lab project.

The tweeting cows are poking fun at the popular Twitter network and are meant to push people to think about where their food comes from and the high-tech nature of farming.

“Hey human, I just pumped out 9.3 kg for your pleasure. Show me some love,” says a recent tweet of dairy cow Attention Please referring to her milk output.

It’s obviously impossible for the hoofed animals to tweet without the aid of a computer but by approaching the robotic milker, the cows do trigger a tweet. The Holstein cows have radio frequency ID tags which tell the computer whether the cow is ready for milking and the computer records how much, how fast and even which teat pumped out milk the fastest. The actual milking data is added to a variety of pre-written messages that are rotated in the tweets.

The messages in the Teat Tweet Dairy Diary are the work of O’Gorman and Ron Broglio, a visiting artist researcher to the critical media lab which does projects to explore the impact of technology on society and the human condition.

A cow in line for milking could generate “That robot still won’t let me in there. What is it thinking? I’ll explode!” Sometimes the tweets say Vote for Nixon or quote poetry from Virgil as the computer adds their milking stats.

O’Gorman, a 39-year-old associate English professor who attended the University of Windsor, is the founder and director of the University of Waterloo’s critical media lab. He says the project considers how technology changes our perception of animals.

“We have this very romantic kind of understanding of what a dairy farm is all about. People have this general idea that the farmer gets up at five in the morning, trudges out to the barn with a pail and milks the cows.”

Chris Vandenberg, the 28-year-old dairy farmer in Brant County who agreed to pick 12 of his 70 cows to go online, said he’d like to see the tweets used in schools. He thought the idea strange at first but said it’s a new way to convey information to the public about the technology farmers use every day.

Source: Copyright 2010 Windsor Star, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publication Inc.