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A paddock based digital hub for automated cattle monitoring and management

Did you know 'walk-over-weighing' can monitor the weights and growth of cattle in remote locations without the need for human interaction?

Project start date: 13 March 2017
Project end date: 13 October 2017
Publication date: 18 November 2019
Livestock species: Grassfed cattle, Grainfed cattle
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Summary

Walk-over-weighing (WoW) is a form of remote monitoring that can automatically capture data on cattle live weight gain and loss without any direct labour requirement. Although WoW can be used in rangeland settings, there has been no recent review of the technology and how it relates to current industry needs.

In consultation with producers, this project involved a comprehensive literature review to develop an easy-to-follow industry guide for remote monitoring of cattle using radio-frequency identification and WoW.

This research has provided an overview of the issues and future direction of automated remote cattle managements systems and delivered a comprehensive report describing the benefits and application on farm for WoW technology.

Objectives

The objective of the project was to gather existing information on the use of WoW by:

  • performing a literature review and stakeholder engagement to determine gaps in existing technologies,
  • commercial products and system outputs
  • creating a best practice guide on the installation of WoW with other data collection, such as birthweight.

Key findings

  • WoW technology is now commercially available from TruTest and the success of its implementation will be closely monitored to increase the benefits to industry.
  • The literature review identified that WoW makes it possible to monitor the weights and growth of cattle with 98% accuracy, as well as determine a range of other performance measures, such as date of calving, age of puberty and individual oestrus cycles.
  • The project explored the low adoption rate of WoW and found that producers were generally not happy with the gap between the proof-of-concept and commercialisation. Although now that the product is commercially available these concerns have been addressed.

Benefits to industry

Despite some setbacks with adoption, producers are optimistic and keen to continue working towards the establishment of a WoW system that will deliver significant potential benefits, such as optimising daily management practices by improving data capture that aids business administration and reduces labour costs.

MLA action

The Walk-over weighing in the beef industry- practical guide was compiled to provide a summary of the state of knowledge and practical assistance in setting up paddock based automated livestock monitoring systems. It pulls together information on the components of WoW, training of cattle, yard design, data management and reporting, telemetry options, system maintenance and current service providers.

Future research

As industry starts to adopt new remote monitoring technologies, the guide will need to be updated on a regular basis to reflect the new learnings. In particular, there will be a need for better-refined guidelines for cattle training protocols, paddock and compound design and expectations for visits to water during rain events.

Related resources

MLA guides

External guides and products

External articles and publications

More information

Contact email: reports@mla.com.au
Primary researcher: Central Queensland University