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E. How Bovine Biosensors May Help Dairy Farmers

Narrator: This is Science Today. Biosensors similar to those used to monitor astronauts are on the horizon in animal agriculture. Bioengineering professor Michael Delwiche of the University of California, Davis, says this type of technology may be developed for dairy farmers in the next 10 to 20 years to monitor the chemical composition of milk or for breeding purposes.

Delwiche: One of the real issues that dairy farmers have is to detect when a cow is in estrus and when the cow is in estrus, then they know that they have to breed the cow. It's a judgment call and they don't always get it right, in fact frequently they get it wrong.

Narrator: So UC biochemical engineers are working with animal hormone scientists to develop a nature-mimicking technique that's based on progesterone levels.

Delwiche: Progesterone is a steroid hormone and it's released by the ovary, so what we do is we watch the progesterone level starts to drop off. When it gets below a threshold, we know that there's going to be surge of other hormones and ovulation is gonna happen.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.