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Archive for Sunday, August 24, 2003

Briefcase

August 24, 2003

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Computer tracks cattle through retinal images

Ranchers have begun using a hand-held computer called an OptiReader to take retinal images of their herds. The digital pictures are stored in a database with information about the animal, such as color, weight or even genetic lineage.

Since the blood vessel patterns don't change over time, the pictures let OptiReader users track animals from birth to death.

Brian Bolton, a sales vice president for manufacturer Optibrand, said the device also could help consumers: As people demand more information about the meat they buy, the ability to know where and how cattle were raised and what they were fed will become more important.

If used on a wider scale, the OptiReader also could ease fears about disease in U.S. cattle herds.

The device originally was developed by ethics and business professors at Colorado State University as an alternative to hot-iron branding.

Above, Jim Doubet, a sales vice president for Optibrand, takes a retinal scan from a steer at the Colorado State University Research Feedlot in Fort Collins, Colo.

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