Large animal veterinarian, Arlan Smith, realized that animal husbandry costs may be reduced by providing a treadmill shaped to accommodate a cow. He claims that a variety of bovine problems may be preempted, such as lame cow syndrome, calving problems, digestive upsets, misplaced abomasum, infertility, and short lifespans.
|FIG. 1 from U.S. Patent No. 7,654,229|
The patent, US7654229B2, comprises a variety of features that are purportedly non-obvious with relation to human treadmills. For example, it teaches an identification system coupled to a database of workout durations and frequencies. It includes a trough, which may hold food or water, to prompt the cow to continue walking on the treadmill. Most importantly, the treadmill has a plurality of rigid plates, that may fall away from end rollers of the treadmill - the rigid plates may both wear down the hoof, as well as sweep fecal matter away from inner componentry of the treadmill. The poop may be further swept away from the plates via a flushing system, which injects water at spaces between adjacent plates.
The concept of the application is quite interesting as animal husbandry becomes a larger issue in the discussion of global warming. Methane produced from cow flatulence aside, animal husbandry is often knocked for its excessive use of land, which results in deforestation. With the introduction of the cow treadmill, land use for dairy and other types of farming may be reduced, thereby decreasing an environmental impact of the farm while also decreasing operational costs and increasing cow health.
Operation space with regard to this concept is open, as the application was abandoned due to nonpayment of maintenance fees. Further improvements may yield interesting IP. One idea includes designing the platform to include an endless track that include a grass-like surface, which may trick the cow into thinking it is still walking the pasture.Additionally, the treadmill may be modified to include arms configured to massage the cow as it strolls on the treadmill.Lastly, to promote socializing between cows, a treadmill may include more than one track so that cows may walk next to one another and discuss their plans for the day.