While Shepherds watched their flocks by Device

December 20, 2016 10:42 am

The Christmas carol ‘While Shepherds Watched their Flocks by Night’ dates back to 1703. Now shepherds are watching their flocks via their mobile phone or tablet.

With the use of mobile phones and tablets for various applications, anywhere, anytime, new industry and innovation research in the AgTech space have more to offer.

This animal-friendly fenceless grazing system sometimes referred to as a “virtual fence” enables a farmer to use their smartphone or tablet to create any number of fences, potentially moving their livestock, or check their cattle’s health and location from anywhere in the world.  Each animal wears a GPS-enabled collar containing software that trains the animal to move or stay within a boundary set up by the farmer.

CSIRO’s patented virtual fencing technology uses coordinates, wireless technologies and sensors to control the location of livestock without the need for an actual fence.

We understand that rotational grazing is used to increase the stock value and carrying capacity of a property, but this requires the installation of new fences and additional labour amongst other things.

In addition, the preferred grazing area may follow seasonal vegetation and land formations, that means the boundaries have to be relocated to optimise grazing patterns. This virtual fencing will potentially enable farmers to automate large-scale rotational grazing customised to farm geography, vegetation and seasonal variations.

Recognised benefits in virtual fencing systems includes:

  • productivity and profitability through improved feed utilisation and better matching of animal demands to feed supply and quality
  • improved environmental and sustainability outcomes such as reduced overgrazing and better weed control and nutrient management
  • improved labour efficiencies and reduced capital investment in fencing.
  • Automate grazing management such as cell or rotational grazing
  • Automate the mustering of cattle in difficult terrain or remote sites – avoiding the need for expensive aircraft
  • Remotely monitor and manage their cattle using their smartphone
  • Alert farmers to fence breaks, animal theft, illness or distressed animals such as calving cows
  • Enable farmers to improve the health and welfare of livestock
  • Preventing cattle from polluting and damaging waterways and environmentally sensitive land.
  • Avoiding killing and injuring native wildlife by avoiding barbed wire and netting fences
  • Avoid impact on wildlife habitat by fences or damage by cattle

More information can be found at http://www.csiro.au/en/Research/AF/Areas/Animal-Science/Animal-Health-Welfare/Virtual-fencing

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