Former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer AC unveiled the future of livestock farming at Beef Australia – eShepherd™, a smart collar system enabling producers to create “virtual fences” and remotely fence, muster and monitor cattle.
The historic first commercial model of an Agersens’ eShepherd collar has been donated to the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame on Wednesday 9 May at the Beef Australia Expo 2018.
The CEO of Agersens, Ian Reilly, said producers are calling eShepherd the biggest leap forward since the invention of the barbed wire fence almost 150 years ago.
“With eShepherd and a smartphone or tablet, you can sip a latte in London and muster your cattle in Cunnamulla,” he said.
“This world-first product will revolutionise producers’ profitability, productivity and sustainability, and it’s fitting that Tim Fischer – a respected national leader, technologist, producer and promoter of Australian innovation – unveiled it here, before it is accepted into the iconic Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame.”
Agersens’ eShepherd uses a GPS-enabled, solar-powered smart collar containing a CSIRO training program to train the animal to stay within the virtual boundary when they hear an audio cue. The audio cue is followed by a small electric pulse if the animal continues in the wrong direction, and livestock quickly learn to respond to the audio cue alone. This is similar to how animals currently learn to avoid conventional fences using their sense of sight.
eShepherd enables producers to more efficiently graze pasture by automating rotational and cell grazing; avoid damage from overgrazing; reduce mustering injuries and accidents; cut fencing and labour costs while creating and removing virtual fences as required; improve animal health and wellbeing; and provide 24/7 decision support information to drive digital transformation of the food production value chain.
The product also offers substantial environmental benefits by offering wildlife friendly, flood and fire proof fencing to keep cattle off sensitive areas like waterways, minimising run-off to the Great Barrier Reef in what Mr Reilly described as a “win win for agricultural production and sustainability”.
eShepherd has a huge potential market in beef and dairy herds in the major producer markets worldwide (500 million head), with future opportunities to adapt the product for sheep, deer, pigs, goats, camels and other livestock.
“We’re experiencing enormous international demand. We have a waiting list and working to fulfil orders as quickly as possible,” Mr Reilly said.