It might look like a standard cattle feeder but this new livestock equipment could change the way producers operate including taking over their trademark cattle calls.
After more than three years of research, Victorian-based manufacturer Paton Livestock Equipment released its Cattle Caller automated feeder this month that features more smart technology than a mobile phone.
Everything from rain sensors that cancel feed sessions until the weather has passed, load cells for weighing and the ability to remotely control feed amounts has been thought of in the two tonne solar-powered feeder.
As it's name suggests one of its most important features is an audio alert that notifies livestock when it's feeding time.
Trials had shown within about one week cattle become fully trained to the technology and calmly approach the feeder when called.
Paton Livestock Equipment's Nick Luxton said feeding dry matter hay to animals grazing on pasture was a common practice due to the expensive nature of high protein type feeds.
But the Cattle Caller was well suited for use as a stand-alone unit for supplementary feeding in the paddock, backgrounding cattle for lot feeding or being integrated into feedlot pens.
By allocating the amount of feed to be dropped and when, animals also have time to ruminate between feeds and eat only enough rather than gorge.
"This product enables farmers to fill it up, set all the appointments for the day and for future days and leave it there to drop feed," he said.
"It's a very planned delivery process and cattle are ruminants; they need to obviously take in the feed and digest it so feeding in big lumps doesn't really work. They need to have feed spread out during the day."
Among the producers who have trialed the product is Victoria's David Goodfellow of Koranui who typically runs between 130 and 230 Angus breeders and their calves, growing cattle out to feedlot entry weights.
He believed it was a great innovation for the livestock industry to improve animal's performance and easily adapt their feeding regimes based on upcoming weather events or other factors.
He explained how he was able to feed his stock four to five times a day but only enter the paddock once a fortnight.
His cattle looked healthier, with an obvious shine to their coat, and were noticeably calm and quiet, which all translated into improved weight gains.
The simplicity of the automation approach to provide a quality feed source at a regular and frequent basis was a real game changer, he said.
Rather than offering a diluted feed supplement, the controlled nature of the feeder meant stock could safely consume a high protein or quality feed.
"With this you can release the feed in a prescribed way, you don't have to mix that feed supplement with many other things and you don't have to dilute it," he said.
"It allows you to change the amount that cattle get access to literally in real time on a daily basis.
"It just takes all the guesswork out of feeding animals. It's very prescriptive and able to be changed as circumstances change."
Mr Goodfellow said there had been wonderful new technology in the cropping and horticulture world in recent years and he loved seeing innovation in the livestock industry.
"Sure it's early days and this is the first of its type of technology," he said.
"In time that technology will be refined, it will be available for producers with much bigger herds to use, perhaps a bigger scale of what these guys have developed already but right now it's a great step forward."
The Cattle Caller starts at $9200 + GST and is available interstate.