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Beyond the Bale : March 2019
44 ON FARM The system being developed by AWI involves using Smart Tags on individual sheep to remotely monitor individuals in real time via a computer, tablet or mobile device. The Smart Tags can be either an ‘ear tag’ that would last for several years, or ‘collar tag’ that would be used temporarily for example, on lambs. The Smart Tags could be used for several purposes, such as monitoring the location and movement of individual sheep and mobs in the flock (see Box 1 below). 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 Smart Tags being developed by AWI aim to enable woolgrowers to track, monitor and assess the status of their stock in real time – and make better informed decisions to contribute to their enterprise’s profitability. TESTING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF AWI SMART TAGS In-the-paddock research led by Dr Jamie Barwick at the University of New England (UNE) is under way on a project to validate and optimise the AWI Smart Tag. “The aim of the project is to demonstrate the AWI Smart Tag is capable of providing location and activity measures of sheep at pasture,” Dr Barwick said. “We also need to understand the optimum device settings for predicting sheep behaviour from a collar and ear mounted sensor – and generate a behaviour algorithm to predict activity metrics in the field. “If successful, the project will help provide real-time online data of sheep behaviour enabling woolgrowers to monitor their animal’s health and welfare remotely.” The latest research to use AWI Sheep Tags to classify three behavioural events (grazing, standing and walking/running) of sheep has produced some very precise results, for both the collar and ear tag. The algorithms are now being implemented in the firmware of the tags to be validated in the paddock. A project to examine whether AWI Smart Tags can identify sheep behaviours – such standing, grazing or walking/running – is producing some very positive results. MONITORING SHEEP BEHAVIOUR WITH SMART TAGS One of the five ewes being used in the AWI-funded UNE trial, wearing the collar tag. where your animals are. The Smart Tags could also be very useful for monitoring the interactions between ewes and their lambs for mothering up (see opposite page). 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, flystrike management, wild dog alerts, health alerts and reproduction optimisation. “Being equipped with information from comprehensive data would enable woolgrowers to make ‘data informed decisions’,” said AWI Program Manager for Farm Automation & Reproduction, Carolina Diaz. “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.” MORE INFORMATION www.wool.com/smarttags
In the Shops - March 2019