High-tech calf loss solution grabs Telstra’s attention

High-tech calf loss solution grabs Telstra’s attention

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Sponsored content: High tech solutions are delivering promising results for cattle graziers in northern Queensland.

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CQUniversity research higher degree candidate Anita Chang's research is designed to better understand the causes of calf loss in order to support the industry’s push to develop an early intervention alert system for graziers.

CQUniversity research higher degree candidate Anita Chang's research is designed to better understand the causes of calf loss in order to support the industry’s push to develop an early intervention alert system for graziers.

This article is sponsored content for CQUniversity

CALF loss costs the northern beef industry $53 million a year, but the size of the challenge has not daunted CQUniversity research higher degree (RHD) candidate Anita Chang from seeking high-tech solutions.

Ms Chang is using on-animal sensors – including GPS trackers and accelerometers which measure more subtle animal movements – to better understand the causes of calf loss in order to support the industry’s push to develop an early intervention alert system for graziers.

The research is being backed by Telstra, which has provided a scholarship to Ms Chang.

Telstra is excited by the data architecture systems that transfer information from the cow to the cloud, analyse it and deliver back meaningful insights to the producer, wherever they are on the property.

“It’s one thing to be able to detect a cow experiencing calving difficulties using a sensor, but the key is being able to reliably transfer that information to the producer across the extensive landscapes we have up here,” Ms Chang said.

“I really enjoy learning and undertaking this project is a great way to gain new skills at the same time as developing technologies that will make a big difference to the productivity and welfare of cattle in Northern Australia.”

Telstra has provided a scholarship to Anita Chang to continue her study which is set to  make a big difference to productivity and welfare of cattle in Northern Australia.

Telstra has provided a scholarship to Anita Chang to continue her study which is set to make a big difference to productivity and welfare of cattle in Northern Australia.

Ms Chang joined CQUniversity after completing her undergraduate studies in Animal and Veterinary Biosciences with First Class Honours at the University of Sydney.

She chose to pursue her studies at CQUniversity in Rockhampton in order to work closely with the northern beef industry and understand the production contexts she is studying, even though the University offers RHD students the option of completing their research by distance.

“There was a choice to do the PhD from home in Sydney but I wanted to move up to Rockhampton to study because having the supervisor support on hand and the great facilities makes this work a lot easier.

“And you get to be involved in and learn from other people’s projects – being part of that wider research network has been really helpful in moving to a new city.”

For the past few months her work has been focussed on reviewing all the scientific reports on calving behaviour and physiology, as well as calf loss behaviour.

Ms Chang’s review has revealed several distinctive behavioural changes around the time of calving that should be able to be detected using on-animal sensors.

Her field trials using on-animal sensors will begin this month (September) when calving commences at Belmont Research Station. The 3200-hectare property is owned by producer group AgForce and hosts field trials conducted by CQUniversity’s Precision Livestock Management team.

Anita Chang's field trials using on-animal sensors will begin this September at Belmont Research Station.

Anita Chang's field trials using on-animal sensors will begin this September at Belmont Research Station.

Ms Chang has also identified from her review of scientific literature that there is a significant gap in knowledge in regards to maternal response to a calf loss event.

“I’m hoping to close this gap in knowledge by using a novel approach to contribute to the understanding of maternal behaviour around a calf loss event, such that we can eventually detect these events using our on-animal sensors.”

This research builds on the work previously supported by Telstra and undertaken by Dr Don Menzies. As part of his Telstra scholarship studies, Dr Menzies developed algorithms that determine the day of calving using a walk-over-weigh system. This technology is now being made available to producers through Data Muster.

CQUniversity is actively undertaking research in a wide range of areas in Agricultural Science, including Precision Livestock Management. If you’re interested in making a research higher degree your next career move, visit CQUniversity’s website for more information

This article is sponsored content for CQUniversity

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