‘Bionic Boots’ Relieving Pain for Arthritic Cattle on the Malvern Hills

As any sufferer will tell you, joint pain isn’t just painful, it’s exhausting and the symptoms often impact on the whole body, not just the joint affected.

However, painful, swollen joints don’t only affect people – animals can suffer from the condition too – and on the steep slopes of the Malvern Hills, local cattle farmers noticed that the steep incline was causing some of their herd’s downward-facing legs to develop joint problems.

Their joint problems had become so severe that farmers were faced with having to remove them from the hills to protect the animals’ welfare, unless a solution could be found. However, removing the cattle would have other environmental impacts – apart from being popular with tourists, their grazing plays an important role in controlling invasive species.

The Malvern Hills Trust approached the economic development team at Malvern Hills District Council in a bid to solve the problem.

Calling on the assistance of local boffins, they were able to develop an ingenious solution, designing unique bionic boots to be worn by affected cattle.  This ensures they graze on the level, no matter how steep the gradient.  The image shows an artists impression of how the boot looks in use.

Developed by members of the Malvern Radar & Technology History Society – the boot makes use of cutting edge technology from mobile phones to adjust the boots and keep the cattle level. Commenting on the boots, Mike Burstow Vice Chair of the Society said:

“Farmers appealed for help to ease the issue of arthritis in cattle grazing on the steep slopes of the Malvern Hills. Using the principles of a self- levelling radar antenna developed first in WWII for British airborne radars, Malvern scientists have teamed the idea with the latest blue-tooth and GPS technology to come up with a bionic boot to reduce the uneven pressure on the animals’ feet. The cattle charge small batteries in each boot just by walking about using a piezo-electric generator.”

“Visitors to The Malvern’s love seeing the Belted Galloway Cattle on the hills, so we really wanted to find a solution to keep them there. Thanks to Malvern’s scientific heritage, the town has been able to draw upon some of the sharpest technological and engineering minds in the UK to create the Bionic Boot.

Please note: this article was scheduled for publication on April 1st