Building an RFID enabled goat feeder

For the last 13 years, I’ve operated a goat dairy and cheesemaking operation. I have always lamented the lack of tech enabled offerings for the goat as present for the dairy cow industry, so I’ve decided to build my own.

This is a series of blog posts detailing my efforts to construct an RFID enabled goat feeder, pieced together from commonly available materials, tied together with duct tape, baling twine, and some software glue.

At a minimum, I would like the feeder to have:

  • An RFID scanner that will uniquely identify each goat entering the feeder.
  • A grain hopper/auger system that will dispense a custom ration to each animal at pre-set intervals during the day.
  • Be easily upgradable to suppose adding other modular components (see the wishlist below!)
  • Provide configuration/reporting data via a mobile interface.

For my wishlist of future components, I’d like to have:

  • A mineral dispenser, for dispensing daily mineral/kelp meal/etc rations.
  • A downward facing camera mounted above the animal’s backs, to assess body condition scores via a Deep Learning model.
  • An infrared camera pointed at the right side of the goat where the uterus is located, to see if we can detect heat signatures indicative of pregnancy.
  • A method for accurately measuring the goat’s body temperature to detect illness.
  • A platform/scale to detect weight gain/weight loss.

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