iCow is an SMS (text message) and voice-based mobile phone application for small-scale dairy farmers in Kenya. It’s something of a virtual veterinary midwife, helping farmers track the estrus stages of their cows, while giving them valuable tips on cow breeding, animal nutrition, milk production efficiency and gestation.
According to iCow’s website, the app “Prompts farmers on vital days of cows gestation period; helps farmers find the nearest vet and AI providers; collects and stores farmer milk and breeding records and sends farmers best dairy practices.” The text messages and voice prompts are sent to customers within the 365-day cow cycle, and the app is designed to run on both low-end and high-end mobile phones.
It’s pretty easy to get on to iCow. Farmers first register for the app on their phones by sending a message to a phone number. Afterwards, the farmers key in important information about their cows, such as expected calving date and the weight of the cow. The farmers then start receiving timely and tailored messages, advice and information.
iCow aims to reduce cow mortality rates, produce healthier and more robust calves, and ultimately provide improved financial returns for the farmers.
iCow officially launched operations in June this year. In the past two months, thousands of farmers across Kenya have already downloaded the App.
“The wonderful thing with iCow is that by the time you have used the app and adhered to all the instructions, your cows end up healthier, bigger and stronger. They can easily fetch you more money in the marketplace. Every smart farmer will use iCow,” said Kariuki Githinji, a small-scale farmer based in Nyeri , a mid-sized town in the central highlands of Kenya.
iCow intends to spread it wings to neighboring East African countries, and maybe someday, iCow might go global.