GPS virtual fencing for livestock trial

By Chloe Mitchell, ASAS/ASAP communications intern

Photo: Agersens

Agersens, a Melbourne technology startup company, has developed a GPS collar and smart phone app system for beef and dairy cattle. This technology was initially developed over ten years ago by the CSIRO, and soon may be available commercially. The new product, called ‘eShepherd’, will warn animals when they come too close to boundaries predetermined by GPS. First there will be an audio cue, then a mild shock (claiming to be better for animal welfare, at one quarter of the level of an electric fence) to train the cattle to change their behaviour upon reaching the boundary.

This system can help to graze cattle on the best pasture available, keeping them away from undesirable grazing areas, as well as reducing the need for mustering and avoiding injuries inflicted by traditional fencing. It may also help to detect distressed or stolen livestock, as the animal’s location and behaviour are constantly being monitored. The product has the potential to reduce labour costs significantly, as well as allow 24/7 remote monitoring of the animals.

Other benefits to eShepherd as opposed to conventional fencing are potentially reduced cost and unobstructed movement of wildlife. Agersens also claim that eShepherd is flood- and fire-proof in that it can be turned off to allow livestock movement and then turned back on to facilitate recovery of the animals. Currently, the company is in the final stage of prototyping, and a cattle trial will soon be run in NSW.

Read more in this article.

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