Home NewsAustralia ‘Virtual midwife’ helps Shirley Manson the Highland cow deliver a big surprise

‘Virtual midwife’ helps Shirley Manson the Highland cow deliver a big surprise

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Highland calves William Wallace and Robert the Bruce are blissfully oblivious to the efforts undertaken to make sure they’ve been born blissful and wholesome. 

Unable to depart their house in locked down Sydney, the twins’ house owners made use of a world-first expertise, which acted as a digital midwife for his or her mom. 

“We are able to comfortably sleep very simple at night time figuring out that we will verify in on them just about, wherever we’re,” Neil Varcoe mentioned. 

He and his spouse had began utilizing digital tags on Highland cattle at their property within the Capertee Valley, close to Lithgow, so they might maintain a better watch on the herd from their house in Sydney. 

The tag tracks an animal’s motion and may collect information that particulars their welfare, well being and efficiency. 

This data is distributed through satellite tv for pc to their house owners.

Highland cow standing in cattle yards
First-time mum Shirley Manson stunned everyone with twins. (

ABC Central West: Xanthe Gregory 


The expertise has been significantly helpful as a result of one in every of their Highland cows, Shirley Manson (named for the Edinburgh rock singer), was in calf. 

“It principally provides us real-time location information, so we’re in a position to see precisely the place Shirley is at any cut-off date,” Mr Varcoe mentioned. 

Highland calf standing in front of a tree and staring at camera
Freedom: William Wallace is called after a well-known Scottish hero.(

Equipped: Neil Varcoe


When Shirley was displaying indicators of labour, Mr Varcoe was in a position to alert neighbours within the Capertee Valley to verify on her progress and guarantee she was not struggling or in misery.

Double the enjoyable

Like all good tales, there’s a plot twist. 

First-time mom Shirley gave start to twins, William Wallace and Robert the Bruce (named after two Scottish warriors). 

“She initially took them each in however then after a short time she determined she was solely going to handle one.”

Three Highland Cattle staring at camera
The remainder of the herd is in a separate paddock to present William Wallace and Shirley some peace and quiet. (

ABC Central West: Xanthe Gregory 


It’s fairly widespread for heifers to reject a twin, significantly if there’s a hole within the time between when they’re born. 

Robert the Bruce has been paired with a surrogate “mom”, a neighbour’s Ballot Hereford who not too long ago misplaced a new child calf. 

Robbie, as he’s now recognized, might be reunited with William and Shirley as soon as he’s weaned. 

Picture of flat valley surrounding by cliff-faced mountain range
The house owners have been unable to depart locked down Sydney to verify on their cattle within the distant Capertee Valley, close to Lithgow. (

ABC Central West: Xanthe Gregory 


The expertise has given the herd’s house owners peace of thoughts. 

“After we first purchased the farm throughout the hottest days of summer season I might get within the truck and drive the three-to-four hours on the market, verify that they had water and are available again all inside a day,” Mr Varcoe mentioned. 

They now additionally use one other kind of expertise to maintain observe of the water provides on the property.

Cows to giraffes

The ear tags are the brainchild of an organization that wished to enhance safety on its household farm. 

“It has a really excessive retention charge. It is not simple to get the tags off in any respect.”

Giraffe with ear tag attached to ear
The ear tags have additionally been utilized by the Giraffe Conservation Basis to assist stop poaching in Namibia.(

Equipped: Giraffe Conservation Basis (Twitter)


The expertise was developed in partnership with the CSIRO and got here on-line in Might.

The corporate goes via an accreditation course of for the tags to be acknowledged abroad. 

They’re already getting used to assist stop poaching and predation of giraffe in Namibia. 

“We’re making an attempt to struggle that with Ceres Tags to scale back the influence of that as a result of the animals will not be solely valued however there aren’t that many any extra,” Mr Smith mentioned. 

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