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story.lead_photo.caption Photos courtesy of Karen CliffordAbove: Libby Martin secures a prototype of a tracking device to a cow on Hodges Farm in Clarksburg. Martin created the device to help locate cows and monitor heart rates to decrease the probability of mortality in herds. Inset: Martin, chief executive officer of Calving Technologies, poses with a calf on Hodges Farm in Clarksburg. Martin, a California High School graduate, recently won $15,000 for her company, which produces cow smart collars meant to decrease calf mortality rates.

Libby Martin grew up on a cattle farm outside California and knew at a young age there was a problem in the cattle industry.

The California girl remembers a few times when her family lost cows. At other times, a large number of cows had difficulty calving their young.

Keeping tabs on the herd and its condition was difficult at times.

After graduating from California High School in 2015, Martin went to the University of Missouri and earned an animal science degree. She then enrolled in MU's veterinary school where she learned even more about bovines.

In 2015, her mind went back to the problems she had seen as a farm girl.

"There's a lot of weird stuff that's completely preventable," she said. "A lot of these problems happen on farms all across the globe. I wanted to try to find a solution to this, so I called vets and farm stores to see what they thought. But they didn't have a solution, either."

After a lot of research on her part, she came up with a GPS of sorts for cattle when in the field. So Martin made a prototype collar to track the heart rate, body temperature and general location of a cow.

And from that idea, Calving Technologies, a company Martin launched on her own, was born.

"There are different bio-parameters and physiological changes in every calf," Martin said. "If we can track those physio parameters, then we can keep better track of the herd.

"The heart rate is going to increase with the activity level in every cow right before they calve," she said. "Also before they calve, the mothers tend to go away from the herd.

"From experience and getting my animal science degree, I have seen this behavior before. We know it happens, so we can send out an alert to the producers. I figured collars were the best way to do that."

After the first phase of the prototype was created, Martin collected her findings and presented it to the entrepreneurship program at MU.

At the university's first Entrepreneur Quest Student Accelerator, Martin won the first-place prize of $15,000 to extend her efforts to keep building her business.

She is currently on the second phase of her company.

"We've progressed a step further," she said. "Right now, it's a fit-to-scale weatherized band solar pack and has a battery pack and cellular, sensor pack. There are two collars sitting in the weather and sun now to test our power systems and to see if we can power everything when it's raining. We're just testing it all out."

Martin said her team on the project includes Scott Christiansen, her academic adviser, and Greg Bier, director of MU Entrepreneur Quest.

"Scott really spearheaded the prototype development," she said. "He's a genius, really. I described what I told him and wanted, and he used his engineering and marketing background to help me take it from there."

Even though Martin is just four years in to her project, she has made strong strides. In addition to the $15,000 she took home from winning the MU Entrepreneur Quest, a contribution from the Department of Animal Sciences added $5,000 to her efforts.

Martin's goal is to raise $50,000 to further the prototype and continue her entrepreneurial endeavors.

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