iCow app and methane belches

Tool for farmers wins State Department contest

Now you can manage the breeding periods of your cattle with iCow, the winner of the Apps4Africa contest the State Department conducted.

The competiton "brought together local technology entrepreneurs to build tools that serve the needs of local nongovernmental organizations and their communities," according to a State Department announcement.

“Your work to develop 21st century solutions to Africa’s challenges is a powerful example of what individuals can do to shape a dynamic, successful future,” said Secretary Hillary Clinton in a video message.

Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale launched the competiton in 2010 in Nairobi, Kenya. It brought in more than 20 entries from Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania.

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FRIDAY FEATURE: Cows & Cows & Cows

These cows may be happy that iCow lets farmers manage their breeding, or maybe they like oregano (see page 2). Maybe they're just joyful.


Cattle farmers can use iCow to track the estrus stages of their cows, which allows better management of breeding periods. "This will help farmers get the most of their cows," State officials wrote.

The developer of iCow, Charles Kithika of Kenya, will receive $5,000 and an Apple iPad.

The second-place app, Kleptocracy Fighters Inc., allows citizens to record and report real-time information on government corruption.

Coming in third is Mamakiba, a calculator and prepayment tracking tool designed to help low-income women save and prepay for their maternal health needs.

In other cow news, a Penn State researcher has found that adding oregano to a cow's diet can reduce the animal's methane emissions by up to 40 percent. Methane in cow burps and ... flatulence is thought to be a significant source of greenhouse gases.

According to National Geographic, Alexander Hristov, assistant professor of dairy nutrition at Penn State, discovered the effect of oregano after six years of work trying to find a natural way to reduce bovine-genic methane. After confirming the oregano effect in the lab, he tried it in the field and found that it had the same effect there.

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