Cat­tle health sen­sors earn re­searcher award

Central and North Burnett Times - - RURAL WEEKLY -

CQUNIVER­SITY Re­search Fel­low Dr Kym Pati­son has won the pres­ti­gious CSIRO Health and Biose­cu­rity award for her work in de­vel­op­ing on-farm an­i­mal wel­fare mon­i­tor­ing sys­tems.

Dr Pati­son was pre­sented with the award, and a re­search grant worth al­most $20,000, by Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Barn­aby Joyce at last month’s Sci­ence and In­no­va­tion Awards for Young Peo­ple in Agri­cul­ture, Fish­eries and Forestry.

The fund­ing will as­sist in pro­gress­ing her re­search, which uses elec­tronic prox­im­ity sen­sors to as­sess the health of cat­tle herds.

Dr Pati­son said that, in the fu­ture, these sen­sors could pro­vide farm­ers with vi­tal in­for­ma­tion on the health and wel­fare of their herd in real time, via dig­i­tal farm man­age­ment plat­forms.

“Cat­tle have quite set so­cial struc­tures, they have reg­u­lar con­tact pat­terns that they make with mem­bers in the group and they’ll con­tact some more than oth­ers de­pend­ing on the re­la­tion­ship that they have with them,” Dr Pati­son said.

“When two an­i­mals come to­gether, the log­gers record when and how long they in­ter­act for and can be used to alert stock man­agers to any un­usual changes in be­havioural pat­terns.

“Ul­ti­mately, we would like farm­ers to be able to use in­for­ma­tion from cat­tle sen­sors to de­tect an­i­mal health is­sues, such as a sick an­i­mal, or prob­lems in their en­vi­ron­ment, such as the presence of a wild dog or an empty trough.”

Dr Pati­son said she was in­spired to un­der­take the re­search af­ter mov­ing to Rock­hamp­ton from a back­ground in dairy farm­ing in Vic­to­ria.

“On a dairy farm, you get to know in­di­vid­ual cows and be­cause you are in daily con­tact with them it is much eas­ier to know when some­thing’s wrong,” she said.

“Tech­nol­ogy is a way of en­abling farm­ers run­ning ex­ten­sive beef cat­tle pro­duc­tion sys­tems to have a sim­i­lar re­la­tion­ship with their stock and im­prove the way an­i­mal wel­fare is mon­i­tored.”

CQUniver­sity has been de­vel­op­ing a web-based app, Data Muster, to en­able pro­duc­ers to mon­i­tor stock based on data gath­ered from sen­sors on an­i­mals, such as prox­im­ity log­gers, or in the pad­dock, such as walk-over-weigh sta­tions.

Dr Pati­son was one of 11 sci­en­tists and re­searchers to re­ceive an award.

PHOTO: STEVE KEOUGH

WELL DONE: Dr Kym Pati­son cel­e­brates her award with Dr Kim Rit­man, Andy Shep­phard and Se­na­tor Anne Rus­ton.

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