Cow 'Fitbit' trials successful

Digital ear tags could revolutionise cattle industry


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The long-life digital tag will send the individual animal's health data to a smartphone or computer.

The long-life digital tag will send the individual animal's health data to a smartphone or computer.

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Graziers may be able to soon remotely monitor their cattle's health via an electronic ear tag.

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It's been called the 'Fitbit' for cows - a digital ear tag that tracks the health of cattle amid hopes it will revolutionise Australia's $17 billion livestock industry.

The long-life digital tag uses GPS to track individual cattle by sending the animal's health, temperature, pulse rate by feeding data directly to a smartphone or computer.

The ear tag is expected to hit the market in 2020 after a successful trial with a grazier in Townsville and James Cook University, Ceres Tag and CSIRO.

The tag could revolutionise Australia's billion cattle industry, Innovation Minister Kate Jones hopes.

"With this new technology, graziers will know if their cattle are sick, if they have roamed too far and the condition of the paddocks their cattle are grazing on," Ms Jones said on Tuesday.

"This technology could have a huge impact on our Queensland graziers."

The goal is to develop an ultra-low power ear tag which lasts as long as the animal does.

"Our aim is to develop a smart tag solution that would potentially last the lifetime of the animal and require less battery life, " Professor Ian Atkinson of James Cook University says.

The ongoing trial is testing the reliability of the tags in Australia's harsh conditions.

The developer, Ceres Tag chief executive David Smith, believes the tags are the future of livestock industry data for the next generation of graziers.

He says that if successful, the tag could be expanded throughout Australia's livestock industries including red meat, dairy, wool and pork.

"It gives greater transparency over grazing management, allowing farmers to locate and monitor their animals to reduce risk and operating costs, improve efficiency and assist with traceability," Mr Smith said.

The company has been forced to turn away hundreds of Queensland graziers wanting to trial the product.

"We cannot afford to trial on everyone's property and will be following a strict development program so we can get the product to market as quickly as possible."

Australian Associated Press

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