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 SMS …

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

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Paris Hilton

Was it Sheep! ?

My Mrs loved that game.

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Silver badge

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

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

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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.

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JDX
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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.

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Gold badge

Re: False positives...

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

.. farmers .. :)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: False positives...

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

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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.

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Joke

Re: be pro-active

In that case it texts "Free ribs"

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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

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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.

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Bronze badge

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/

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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.

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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.

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Coat

Any communication medium?

Presumably this would use a baa code...?

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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?

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Silver badge

"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.

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Silver badge

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 !

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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..

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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.

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Autumn failure

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

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Autumn failure

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

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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.".....

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Anonymous Coward

But how many times.....

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

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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.

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Gold badge

Re: Frikkin' lasers...

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

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JDX
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The sheep don't voluntarily send the message

Thanks for clearing that up.

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Trollface

Re: The sheep don't voluntarily send the message

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

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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.

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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'.

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Unhappy

Being pedantic

The Canton name is St Gallen, not St Gall.

I know, I need to get out more.

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Re: Being pedantic

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

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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

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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.

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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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