WEARABLE motion sensors, developed at La Trobe University, are being put to work on sheep and cattle across Australia.
The research team has analysed movement data, similar to those from a Fitbit, taking it to an unprecedented level of detail and providing powerful insights into the health, wellbeing and behaviours of cattle and sheep. This will help farmers understand and act on an individual animal's behaviour, even on very large-scale farms.
Director of La Trobe's Centre for Technology Infusion, Dr Aniruddha Desai said the new technology has the potential to transform farmers' understanding of their livestock, which in turn will lead to significant economic benefit.
"The next generation of low cost and low-weight sensors and the data they provide can bring the human factor back into farming,” Dr Desai said.
"In the past, farmers got to know the habits of their individual animals. However, with large-scale farming, that is now impossible and current systems such as video monitoring are highly inaccurate.”
Science leader for this program, Dr Markandeya Jois said the study has been carried out over the past three years on three farms in Victoria; a dairy farm in Tatura, a sheep farm in Greta and a beef farm in Winchelsea.
"Our work has shown the potential of such technology to address important industry problems in Australia such as high lamb mortality rate in sheep and improving feed efficiency and pasture utilisation in both dairy and beef industries” said Dr Jois.
Dr Desai said the next step is to bring the new technology to market for a broader application in the Australian farming industry.
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