Virtual fence put to the test

By Country News

A world-first smart collar system that enables producers to create virtual fences and remotely muster, monitor and move livestock is being put to the test at a new demonstration farm.

The 688ha property at Mutdapilly, an hour’s drive from Brisbane, will enable producers to see the system in action and facilitate the development of further features and data integration to benefit northern pastoral producers.

The system will be demonstrated on a range of breeds and act as a way to display current eShepherd functions and also further develop more functions.

Agri-tech firm Agersens’ chief executive officer Ian Reilly said eShepherd would revolutionise producers’ profitability, productivity and sustainability.

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.

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 and improving animal health and wellbeing.

The product also offers substantial environmental benefits by offering wildlife-friendly, flood-proof and fireproof 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’’.