Skim Milk

Obesity is an epidemic in many countries, including America, resulting from a lack of exercise and poor diet. Commonly, people are happier when they exercise and eat right, not to mention their vitals (BP, HR, etc.) change to more desirable values. This logic applies to household pets as well; dogs are happier and healthier when sufficiently walked and fed appropriately. Therefore, it is safe to assume that livestock, such as cows, would also be happier when provided with a medium for exercise. However, cows are naturally dormant animals that enjoying grazing and relaxing. Commonly, farmers, whether dairy or cattle, arrange drinking water for the cows far away from their food, thereby forcing the cows to walk. However, this requires a large plot of land that could be utilized in other ways.

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

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.