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With the arrival of IoT technologies, it is now possible to use health devices such as the Fitbit and the Apple iWatch and apply this level of care to animals. eShepherd® is an innovative rethink on animal health by applying these similar IoT technology developments to cattle. Monitoring the precise location of livestock, moving them safely and gathering extensive data can mean a higher level of care and wellbeing for livestock.

Here are some of the ways Agersens is re-inventing animal husbandry with the eShepherd to answer that challenge.

Reduced injuries from barbed wire

Virtual fencing means animals are not entangled or injured by barbed wire

Managing sickness, injury or missing animals with GPS and accelerometers
The eShepherd unit includes an embedded accelerometer and a GPS reader. Using complex algorithms, the system can sense when animals are immobile for an extended period of time. Perhaps the animal is stuck in a gully or gulch or has not moved from its current location for more than 12 hours. eShepherd will use the last location reading of the animal and combine it with accelerometer data. Using the eShepherd application, the farmer can then detect unusual behaviour allowing a more rapid response. Quicker intervention in sick animals can mean faster recuperation.

Employing a virtual fence also means livestock are not subjected to sharp barbed wire jabs. They cannot find themselves entangled in traditional fencing or caught in electric fences where they might endure uncontrolled shocking. A virtual fence can reduce traditional fencing injuries.

On large stations or conservation areas involving public grazing, it is not uncommon to lose cattle for an extended period of time. It is difficult to provide an advanced level of care to an animal if it can’t be found! The eShepherd GPS monitors the location of an entire herd 24/7. Beef producers are able to monitor their herd closely, and can improve their overall management capabilities.

Improving nutrition and diet with virtual boundaries
The eShepherd animal management platform provides a quick easy method to implement rotational or cell grazing best practices. Virtual boundaries can be quickly drawn on a tablet to create a grazing zone that can be changed at any time without costly electrical fencing placements. In turn, best practices with rotational grazing strategies can provide higher levels of nutrition and best feed allocation for each animal. With greater possible control over the diet of each animal, the farmer also can generate more data on the feed intake of the overall herd. Virtual boundaries can provide a fast, easy and convenient way to manage a feeding program as required.

Calmer round up through virtual herding
Virtual herding is a method of mustering where livestock are gradually moved across a property to a new location through audio cues.

Alternate method of mustering

Virtual herding is an alternate method of mustering with reduced pressure on livestock

Farmers use the eShepherd online application to herd their cattle at their own pace without the pressure of traditional mustering methods. Utilizing herd behaviour, the eShepherd system can provide an alternative to what is traditionally a very stressful time for animals. Mustering with helicopters, quad bikes or dogs can create panic and confusion and cattle often lose significant weight in the mustering process. The reduced distress and frenetic activity can support the wellbeing of each animal in the herd.

Better decisions with big data
Perhaps one of the biggest ways that Agersens is rethinking animal management is through data collection. Aggregating data on animal behaviour, grazing practices, health and wellbeing will provide both veterinarians, beef producers and the wider industry with greater oversight. It also gives the means to assess health and welfare. At the farm level, beef producers will have better information at their fingertips to make better decisions and make changes to improve the wellbeing of the animal. Accurate data enables a solid knowledge base to create healthier livestock. The animal health industry will have solid and reliable data to steer a course for the future in improving animal health.

Big data and animal health

eShepherd data collection will have a big impact on future animal health

With greater control over the movement of animals, farmers can provide a higher level of care through better nutrition and health monitoring, while increasing profitability of their farm.