Imagine tracking beef cattle movements and knowing if they were walking, resting or grazing- every four seconds, every day.
It sounds like a ‘fit bit’ for cows but researchers from the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation are trialing ‘MOOnitor’ cow collars, a system developed in Israel using satellite and cloud communication.
Charles Sturt lecturer in whole farm management Dr Shawn McGrath from the Fred Morley Centre said it’s an opportunity to showcase the technology to students and assess its application for research and cattle management.
“Behavioural monitors are now commonly used in the global dairy industry for monitoring cattle health and identifying management events,” Dr McGrath said.
“We’ve purchased some of the collars to see how this technology can be used within our wider research portfolio and to examine its potential for use in extensive beef production systems in Australia to improve health, welfare, production and management outcomes.”
Graham Centre senior research fellow in spatial agriculture, Jon Medway says it’s an important step forward in the Centre’s research into precision livestock management.
“This kind of technology can put an enormous amount of data at producers’ fingertips but there’s no point in collecting data without being able to use it to add value to a livestock system,” Mr Medway said.
“We want to understand how the technology works and aim to conduct experiments to test and validate it for new uses within Australian beef production systems.
“It’s also an important teaching tool for students given that this kind of technology is likely to be part of the landscape of livestock production in the future.”
The purchase of the collars has been supported by the Charles Sturt University Faculty of Science Small Research Infrastructure Support Scheme.