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Bentley Lecture: Precision Livestock Management in the Extensive Grazing Industries

By Dr. Simone M.M.K. Martins, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Dr. Mark Trotter, Central Queensland Unviversity, began his presentation defining that precision livestock management would be “Automating the collection of information on animals and their environment to increase the resolution at which decisions are being made.” This technology consists of a smart tag or something like that, and then these data would be sent to a cloud-based server using satellite or terrestrial towers. After the data were processed, stored, and analyzed, it will be remotely delivered to livestock producers. The benefit of this technology would be for all the chain. The producers would receive information about where the animal is, what the animal is doing, and some information concerning physiological state (disease detection), detection of subclinical plant poisoning issues, parturition detection or dystocia detection, predation detection, bull mating activity, and breakdown. Besides, they would receive information about the pasture and range management (GPS and accelerometer can tracking data and measure grazing distribution and behavior interventions), sensor integration (improve spatial and temporal management of pastures and rangelands and integrating vegetation sensing data with on-animal sensor data), the welfare state, and in this way, the producers would be enabled to make a decision. For the farm suppliers, they can be refining and automating the supply of inputs, post-farmgate the consumer can know how the animal was produced (welfare measure), and the government and regulatory agencies would be interesting by improved data for key applications. The researchers can use it for behavior modeling or behavior algorithm development, correlation data with behavior. Dr. Hopkins also commented that this technology's challenges would be robustness of device to survive on an animal, form factor (ear tag or collar), ear tag weight and retention issues, and the cost compared to returns.

The unedited recording of the lecture can be found on the meeting website.