Frequently Asked Questions
What does an eBolus do and do I need one?
It measures pH and temperature levels in the rumen and then displays the information in a graph to give you an accurate depiction of how well your cows are being managed. If you suspect your cows could be at risk of SARA or are looking at doing research into digestion patterns of cattle then the eBolus could be perfect for you.
For more information see the ebolus.
For more information on SARA, click here.
If you would like a quote as either a farmer or researcher, then email firstname.lastname@example.org
How long does a bolus last?
Our pH and temperature boluses can be highly accurate for up to 150 days (5 months) in the rumen. For a bolus in constant use, the battery is unlikely to be the limiting factor. Due to the inhospitable environment within the rumen the pH sensor readings become invalid after between 90 and 150 days of continuous use. The time at which the battery runs out far exceeds the life of the pH sensor in the bolus, which is the limiting factor on the bolus lifespan.
Due to the nature of the bolus design the battery cannot be replaced.
eCow boluses use alkali batteries that when installed and tested give values of up to 3.2V however within a few hours of use this drops to 3 V and the batteries then deplete approximately linearly until they are about to expire when they drop very quickly. Our electronics will keep working accurately until the voltage drops below 2.5 V which can be as much as 2 years. However the pH sensor will have failed long before then unless you have been able to clean and recalibrate the sensor (using fistulated cows).
Power consumption is dominated by radio both when in listening and sending mode, the less often you use the radio the longer the bolus will last. For example downloading daily will deplete the batteries by about day 75 whereas once a week will give over six months (although batteries do vary a bit). You can reduce the radio on time using the settings menu on the app. Reducing your radio on time window to four hours per day extend the battery life sixfold.
On the app showing the recent data you may see a predicted date for the batteries to expire. The algorithm compares the existing voltage with that associated with the last data often created during production and testing. When bolus is very new the algorithm sees a very rapid drop as you can see from the figure above and incorrectly extrapolates a short life. Once the system has been used a few days the predicted expiry date will become more accurate.
Why do pH readings drift?
The effect of pH drift in eCow boluses is caused by rumen fluid slowly seeping into the glass bulb pH sensor, through the protective triple junction and contaminating the reference electrode. Inside the boluses, pH is measured by the differential potential (mV) between the hydronium ions affecting the measurement electrode and the Ag/AgCl reference electrode protected by the triple junction. As rumen liquor begins to leak into the sensor and contaminate the reference the potential difference in mV between the two electrodes narrows so that the pH value appears to be rising.
We do not apply any drift correction, although with the eBolus customers have the ability to re-calibrate the device to correct the pH reading and lengthen the life of the device.
How much does an eBolus cost?
If you would like to request a quote then please click here.
How long will delivery take?
If you would like a more up to date time frame we can provide that upon request. Please email us at email@example.com with your order size and the country you require them in and we will be happy to assist in your planning.
How is the eBolus administered?
If you do try yourself please make sure the balling gun passes past the oesophageal flap to avoid the cows lungs.
How is the pH measured?
The pH is calculated by measuring the voltage difference between the measurement electrode (in the rumen fluid) and the reference electrode (assumed to be pH 7). This is converted to a ADC (analogue-to-digital conversion) value and measured against pre-recorded calibration data, resulting in pH readings.
How many cows should be monitored?
In order to get an average reading of the herd we suggest using the boluses in average early lactation cows, instead of using it to diagnose individual sickly cows.
How much data does an eBolus provide and store?
Both boluses can store up to 2700 lines of data (28 days at 96 readings per day) before it starts overwriting the oldest information.
Can the eBolus be used in beef cattle?
If you are interested in using eCow boluses in beef cattle and would like a quote then please click here.
What does a data download involve
Research customers may choose to opt out of having data sent back to eCow.
Full instructions are provided upon purchase and further assistance can be provided by contacting eCow.
Do cows need to be restrained to download data?
How is the data stored once I upload it?
Data is accessible from any computer as long as it is connected to the internet and you have the required login details.
Some farms insert a magnet in the rumen. Does it have any effect on the system?
Do you make temperature only boluses?
Can we deal with the data in Excel?
Do you provide Redox Sensors in your boluses?
For those who own an eBolus.
Can I extend the eBolus battery life?
Our boluses are already preset to be optimised for battery efficiency and ease of use. The time at which they run out far exceeds the life of the pH sensor in the bolus, which is the limiting factor on the bolus lifespan.
How often should I collect the data?
If you require your bolus to store more than 28 days worth of data at any one time, please contact us and we will advise further.
Can I use my own phone for data downloads?
How do I position the antenna when downloading?
Please be aware radio is very non-linear, we are constantly surprised by the influence of small environmental features like metal stanchions. The bolus rotates about every 40 seconds due to eructation/peristaltic muscular action so patience and movement of the antenna will help.
Can we replace batteries ourselves?
How long can I leave my bolus outside the rumen after re-calibration?
I can't connect to my In Vitro bolus?
It is also important to note that when a bolus has powered itself back on after going into Auto off mode, it will take roughly ten minutes until it starts broadcasting a signal. This must be taken into consideration before removing the bolus from the incubator.
Does the ebolus ever come out of the cow?
Our bolus is currently 150 g, 27 mm diameter and 135 mm long, the size of a large cow pill. When ingested or placed in the rumen by fistula it moves to the reticulum. Using eCow’s patented design, the bolus stands upright in the reticulum and is designed to be heavy enough to not be passed by the cow. It remains in the reticulum until slaughter or removed by hand from a fistulated cow.
Can the ebolus be used in other animals?
Our guideline size is an animal over 80kg and with a maximum Body Condition score of between 1 to 3.5.
The current length of the bolus means that it cannot be used in horses. It appears to get stuck at the thoracic inlet with it not being possible to advance the probe even with direct massaging of the oesophagus.
Placing an eBolus in an animal that is not advised will void the products warranty.
If you do plan on using a bolus in an animal other than a cow, please contact us and we will try to advise further.
Who designed the eBolus?
Who typically buys the eBolus?
In early 2013 we expanded into commercial dairy farms in the UK and abroad with the updated eBolus and data services.