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Beyond the Bale : December 2017
the flock, and the distribution of the sheep within the paddock. This would be useful information if you want to know for example where and when the sheep prefer to graze, drink and shelter, or simply to know where you can locate the sheep. The tags could also be very useful for monitoring the interactions between animals for mothering up. In addition to these direct applications, smart tags could be used for several research and data analysis purposes to help woolgrowers optimise their flock’s productivity. For example, in relation to flystrike management, wild dog alerts, grazing optimisation, health alerts and reproduction optimisation. Being equipped with comprehensive data would enable woolgrowers to make ‘data informed decisions’. Importantly, the system is being designed to be a labour saving innovation, aimed at taking some of the hard work and time out of wool-growing and contribute to an enterprise’s bottom line. It could be used as an alternative to some of the jobs normally doneinauteoronabike. The technology is being designed to be low cost, long lasting and self-sufficient. The system is to be made up of different components that all communicate with each other via wireless technology and to even be accessible while off the farm using the internet. The system will utilise internet connection that could be provided by a wireless network similar to that detailed in the ‘Wireless Farm’ article in the September edition of Beyond the Bale. In fact, the photos on these two pages were shot on a farm trial at the ‘Joyce’s Park’ property of woolgrower Tony Butler near Newstead in central Victoria, who was featured in that Beyond the Bale article and in the article on the right of this page. AWI will continue development and small-scale trialing of the system. Larger scale trials will then be undertaken to test materials and cultivate further applications prior to a public release, potentially expected later next year. A close up of the collar tag, to be used on lambs while they are mothering up. They are battery powered and reusable. WIRELESS NETWORK INSTALLED Victorian woolgrower Tony Butler has recently installed a wireless network on his property, which he found to be a relatively simple process. Tony Butler runs 8,000 sheep in a mixed enterprise at his 2,600ha family farm ‘Joyce’s Park’, near Newstead in central Victoria. Tony featured in the September edition of Beyond the Bale as a woolgrower who was keen to implement the Ubiquiti wireless technology on his property. In the past month, Tony has indeed installed the technology to remotely monitor a distant section of the property that persistently has been the target of sheep thieves in the past. Tony is also trialing AWI’s smart ear tags on some of his sheep. “The wireless network seems to be achieving our aims in the short term,” Tony said. “We have it up and running and my nephew Matthew monitors it closely and we already have some dubious characters on film. We have been subject to quite a bit of stock theft over the years from this particular location and so security is the prime initial reason for us installing the network. Installing a solar powered wireless antenna on Tony Butler’s property. “I can see a wireless network having numerous other advantages. We are looking to extend the current system. Where we currently have our tower will give us a direct line of site to several other locations on the property that are relatively remote, and that should enable us to extend the system in the future and potentially install Wi-Fi spots. “I think the greatest challenge in installing the network was picking a route for the optimum positioning of the microwave dishes because of the hilly nature of our property. It’s not necessarily the shortest or direct route, but at the end of the day we did achieve the signal to where we needed it.” Tony Butler examining a smart tag on one of his sheep. ON FARM 51