back to article For flock's sake: Scared sheep send SMSes to Swiss shepherds

Swiss boffins have been testing SMS-equipped sheep to see if they can send a warning text message when the big, bad wolf approaches, and it looks like they can. The sheep don't voluntarily send the message, but a heart-rate monitor fitted to a sheep's collar can detect when the animal is stressed, and automatically sends an …

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  1. Tom 260

    So now they'll be able to blame the sheep when the cycling timing data gets stuck in network congestion?

  2. Tegne
    Paris Hilton

    Was it Sheep! ?

    My Mrs loved that game.

  3. Amorous Cowherder

    See it now...."hly shtz! da bg bd wlf cmng, lol!"

  4. Code Monkey

    It'll be texts from dog next. http://textfromdog.tumblr.com/

  5. Blofeld's Cat
    Devil

    False positives...

    Some more reasons why sheep get excited: cars, sandwiches, other sheep, shepherds, shadows, trees, grass ...

    After a couple of weeks of that your average shepherd will be leaving his phone off the hook.

    Besides which any half competent predator will take its victim without alarming the flock until it's too late.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: False positives...

      By monitoring several animals in a flock you can be more confident, and by using past data you can train your system to the same end.

      And no, knowing a predator is attacking is valuable because you can get there when it's only one or two animals, not the whole herd.

    2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: False positives...

      Some more reasons why sheep get excited: cars, sandwiches, other sheep, shepherds, shadows, trees, grass

      .. farmers .. :)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: False positives...

      "will take its victim without alarming the flock" sounds like the voice of experience.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    be pro-active

    Just pick the slowest sheep in the flock and fit it with a proximity mine. No more wolf, no more problerm, and all for the cost of one sheep.

    1. Tom 38 Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: be pro-active

      In that case it texts "Free ribs"

    2. Bush_rat
      Pint

      Re: be pro-active

      Even better, start leaving chunks of stake with grenades glued ontop.

      A pint because itll take 3 before I'll try it

  7. LinkOfHyrule
    Joke

    baa out loud!

    This gives me an idea for a new SMS adult service - chat live to bored sheep! X-rated woollen action! 09069 69CHOPS - £1 per text plus standard network rate.

    1. ItsNotMe

      Re: baa out loud!

      Sorry...but that is now ILLEGAL in the UK...even for sheep. Too baaad.

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/08/03/text_talk_legal_status/

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Baa humbug...

    Sheep tend to be reared in areas that do not have much in the way of mobile coverage, so this is only really useful for sheep in, or close to, urban areas. Cardiff* for example.

    * Other unfair and inaccurate racial stereotypes are also available.

    1. Annihilator
      Coat

      Re: Baa humbug...

      If you'd seen the women in Cardiff, you'd understand the ovine preference... fnaar, fnaar...

      On a serious note though, SMS isn't really the main part of the story, the system could use any communication medium.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Graham Bartlett
        Coat

        Any communication medium?

        Presumably this would use a baa code...?

  9. Silverburn
    Holmes

    Wolves? There's bears too...

    Thing that puzzles me, is that the Swiss are big fans of the temporary electrified fences, moving the flock to different fields on a near daily basis - there are no real fences per-se.

    Surely they keep the sheep in, as well as the wolves out?

    1. Chemist

      "big fans of the temporary electrified fences,"

      Indeed you are correct - in fact I just climbed over one ( for cattle ) this morning in Saas-Fee. They don't look capable of keeping a big dog or wolf out though as they are quite low.

      1. Chemist

        Re: "big fans of the temporary electrified fences,"

        Mrs Chemist just pointed out that a SMS when the heart rate was zero would be the best indication of wolves !

        1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

          Re: "big fans of the temporary electrified fences,"

          There is a good chance that by that time, the transmitter would already enjoy the stomach acids of the predator..

  10. Magani
    Coat

    Worried?

    "British sheep don't have to worry about wolves, and rarely worry about rustlers either, in fact they don't even flock properly..."

    So you can't tell them to flock off?

    Mines the sheepskin one of course.

  11. Refugee from Windows

    Autumn failure

    When the ram's out with the raddle waistcoat in the autumn the system will go mad! Raised heartrates indeed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Autumn failure

      Ooh!, it's the artificial inseminator - be still my beating heart !

  12. TeeCee Gold badge
    Coat

    Sheep alert error.

    "This alert system seems to be working, but one of my sheep has gone completely bald!"

    "Let's have a look........aha.........it's dialling a premium rate number. Sorry, but it's been fleeced.".....

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But how many times.....

    .....can these Sheep cry "Wolf!!", before the farmer stops believing them?

  14. Return To Sender
    Mushroom

    Frikkin' lasers...

    Obvious development - a squad of laser-equipped (homing missile, tactical nuke, take your pick) sheep in each flock. Rearward facing of course, since presumably the sheep are just bright enough to run *away* from not toward the wolf... No need for the shepherd to get out of bed, even.

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: Frikkin' lasers...

      Genius idea. Nature already provided an in-sheep mounting bracket as well :).

  15. JDX Gold badge

    The sheep don't voluntarily send the message

    Thanks for clearing that up.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: The sheep don't voluntarily send the message

      Otherwise they would demand the iPhones to which they are entilted!

      1. SteveK

        Re: The sheep don't voluntarily send the message

        Give them their own Internet access and they'll all be following each other on Twitter before you know it.

        1. Bush_rat
          Trollface

          Re: The sheep don't voluntarily send the message

          "Give them their own Internet access and they'll all be following each other on Twitter before you know it."

          Don't you mean Shitter, named so because only sheep use it and is 'shitter'.

  16. naylorjs
    Unhappy

    Being pedantic

    The Canton name is St Gallen, not St Gall.

    I know, I need to get out more.

    1. Thomas Gray

      Re: Being pedantic

      Actually it's Kanton, not Canton, being German speaking. If you want to be über-pedantic :)

      1. Wensleydale Cheese
        Happy

        Re: Being pedantic

        "Actually it's Kanton, not Canton, being German speaking. If you want to be über-pedantic :)"

        überpedantisch surely?

        And canton is the English word for der Kanton

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The various stages of surveilsheep

    Your sheep is being chased.

    Your sheep is being eaten.

    Your sheep has been eaten.

    The sheep sensor is in a small brown pile beside the B1285. Please insert into another sheep.

  18. Colin Brett
    Mushroom

    Levels of difficulty

    "British sheep don't have to worry about wolves, and rarely worry about rustlers either, in fact they don't even flock properly, and need walls and fences keep them together*. ...

    * Your correspondent once worked on a game based around sheep, including several months spent developing sheep-flocking algorithms, so was very disappointed to discover this fact."

    So if British sheep don't flock, they are more difficult to gather together into pens. Does this mean that for the computer version of "One Man and his Dog" our correspondent was working on, would use cowardly foreign sheep at the lower levels and more independent-minded, rebellious British sheep at higher levels?

    Imagine a Boss Sheep at the end of each level! Could the Border Collie be upgraded with a "tactical mint sauce" option?

    Nuke Icon because it would barbeque a sheep quite nicely :-)

    Colin

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