New tags to track health
IN THE past 10 years technology in agriculture has skyrocketed through the use of GPS trackers and drones.
CQUniversity agriculture lecturer Dr Jaime Manning will be trialling smart ear tags to help address animal health and wellbeing issues in sheep.
She will be working with Australian Wool Innovation and the Central Queensland Livestock Centre of Excellence to test and evaluate the sensor system developed by AWI.
“Queensland sheep producers are in need of new technologies, such as the smart sensor ear tag, to automatically detect issues affecting their animals,” she said.
“Our research will evaluate whether the smart tags are rugged enough for Queensland’s environmental conditions and develop animal behaviour algorithms so farmers can be automatically alerted of any arising health issues and undertake immediate intervention.”
“The applications we are focusing on are the detection of predator attacks, as well as more subtle behaviour changes associated with disease development in sheep.”
Dr Manning said three of the most common diseases wool producers faced were those caused by worms, flies and lice.
“These three have the biggest impact economically so we’ll be investigating those quite closely,” she said.
“It’s quite alarming when you look at the statistics of just how many producers and animals are impacted by wild dogs and disease.
“With these ear tags we’re hoping for farmers to get alerts on the issues in their herd on their phone so they can intervene early.”
She said at the end of 2019 they will put the call out to producers to trial the ear tags on their properties.
Before it happens she said the tags would need to undergo testing.
“We’ll need to make sure we’re collecting enough data from the tags, ensure they’re rugged enough for use and also make sure they stay in the animal’s ear,” she said.
“Then once we’ve done that we can start working with producers to start monitoring.”
Dr Manning said once farmers have access to the tags, commercially there are many ways it can be used.
“The good thing about technology is it can be applied in so many different ways,” she said.
“Depending on the producer, they might only be interested in the animal’s location so they don’t have to constantly go out and check on them.
“We’ve also got producers who have more disease issues so it’s good to see the different ways one piece of technology can be applied.”
She said she’s noticed in the past few years more companies have embraced agricultural technology.
SMART TECH: Dr Jaime Manning from CQUniversity said the new smart sensor ear tags will monitor the behaviour and wellbeing of sheep.