HerdDogg, a US startup developing an IoT product for livestock farmers, has raised $2.3 million in seed funding. Midwest-focused venture capital firm Serra Ventures led the round with participation from Innova Ventures and iSelect Fund.
HerdDogg has developed tags that are attached to animals’ ears, called ‘DoggTags,’ and a tag reader called the ‘DoggBone’ that collects data from the tags about the activity, health, and location of each animal.
The DoggBone is placed at various strategic points on a ranch such as a watering trough, a tree, or a gate. It then transmits the data through the cloud for analysis in HerdDogg’s software platform.
HerdDogg has patented discoveries around identifying animal conditions based on the body temperature detected at the ear. This includes detecting early symptoms that might affect an animal’s core temperature, according to Melissa Brandao, founder and CEO.
“Farmers can now know if their animals are in heat, ill or injured, and in the right pen or pasture,” she told AgFunderNews.
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“There are lots of new companies offering livestock monitoring similar to this globally, but I welcome it as it helps show the benefits of the technology to the industry,” said Brandao. “Our point of differentiation is that we’re not tethered to the barn and are focused on free-range operations. Our devices — the tags and readers — can be deployed remotely, in any environment, and so can crossover between the dairy and beef industry, but also more alternative markets like elk, sheep, and chicken.”
Rob Schultz from Serra Ventures, who will join HerdDogg’s board, said the data set that HerdDogg is collecting from the tags and the insights it’s creating using data science, are what sets the startup apart from the rest.
HerdDogg will use the proceeds to establish a sales office in Fresno, California where 20% of the US dairy industry is based, but where there’s activity across livestock sectors, according to Brandao.
“We will be selling directly to producers and so want to nurture our relationships with producers in the valley who tend to be early adopters of technology,” she said. “We then want to roll out this model of focusing on one area and offering a local hub for clients to come and see us, see the product working; we want producers to know we’re there in their area.
Tom Trone, a former John Deere executive and investor in HerdDogg, also joined the startup’s board of directors.
Trone used to work on John Deere’s precision ag sales strategy and roll out and has been “instrumental” in how HerdDogg has decided to sell and distribute its product.
“He’s part of the reason we decided to sell direct to producers rather than through distributors,” said Brandao. “We want to have a good grounding in the markets where we’re working. He’s been a wealth of insight.”