eShepherd A revolution in livestock management

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eShepherd: A revolution in livestock management

Developed by Melbourne-based agri-tech firm Agersens, eShepherd is a virtual fencing system for livestock that uses a GPS-enabled, solar-powered neckband, enabling cattle producers to create "virtual fences". Using a smartphone, tablet or PC, producers can remotely fence, muster and monitor their livestock 24/7 from anywhere in the world.

Ian Reilly, CEO of Agersens, said the technology has the capacity to revolutionise livestock farming by unlocking value from the digital transformation of the beef and dairy industries. "Using eShepherd, beef and dairy producers will be able to improve the grazing control and wellbeing of livestock and protect wildlife from the danger of entanglement in traditional fences. This will lead to more productive and profitable farms." said Mr Reilly. "eShepherd will also benefit the environment by keeping livestock out of sensitive areas like waterways."

"Modern producers understand that improved grazing control leads to more productive and profitable farms," said Mr Reilly, "and they are keen to adopt technology that will get that result."

The transformative eShepherd product has a huge potential market in beef and dairy herds worldwide, with future opportunities to adapt the product for sheep, deer, pigs, goats, camels and other livestock. The eShepherd virtual fencing system uses containing a CSIRO-developed algorithm to train cattle to stay within the virtual boundary when they hear an audio cue from the neckband. The technology was patented by CSIRO and is licenced exclusively to Agersens worldwide.

Headquartered in Melbourne, Agersens is an innovative agri-tech company revolutionising livestock production globally by applying virtual fencing technology developed by CSIRO – to which Agersens holds the worldwide exclusive license. The Agersens team includes engineers, beef and dairy producers, animal behaviour and welfare scientists and business leaders committed to delivering this important innovation globally. The firm's global partners include CSIRO, Gallagher, State and Federal Governments, Meat & Livestock Australia, Dairy Australia, universities, agricultural research organisations, cattle and dairy farmer associations, and natural resource managers.

Agersens has already received orders for thousands of eShepherd neckbands in Australia, New Zealand, the US, Canada and the UK. Producers can join the waitlist by contacting Agersens here.

Ten ideas for using virtual fencing in 2019

  1. Rejuvenating Public Conservation Areas - Throughout the world many beef producers run their cattle on public conservation lands. This process benefits both the farmer and the conservation area as cattle aid in soil regeneration and grass rejuvenation. However, most conservation areas do not allow traditional fencing. Virtual fencing enables a beef producer to run their cattle on a conservation area and confine their cattle to the correct boundaries without physical fences.
  2. Avoiding Noxious Weeds - Managing poisonous plants to livestock is an important part of good pasture control. And although many plants are unpalatable, and animals will not graze on them, others will have adverse effects on their health if eaten. In some circumstances, it is impractical to fence off infested areas. Virtual fencing gives pasture managers the ability to draw a boundary around noxious weeds. It is a quick solution that reduces the possibility of animals grazing on poisonous weeds and damaging their health.
  3. Fencing on Frozen Ground - In northern climes the ground is usually frozen during winter. However, there are times during the season when a warm weather front will thaw out crops or pasture, allowing animals to graze on the vegetation, even though the ground is still frozen. Virtual fencing allows a manager to create fencing on frozen soil and keep their cattle grazing. They can also keep animals away from frozen ponds, so they do not inadvertently walk on to the ice and fall through.
  4. Protecting Sensitive Nests and Burrows - Farmers have often been reluctant to spend a large amount of money fencing off a sensitive wildlife area. Ground dwelling birdlife habitats may only be there for a season and then the family of birds moves on. Virtual fencing allows farmers to create a boundary instantly. If an important nest or burrow is discovered, it can immediately be fenced off from livestock using a smartphone. If the animal or bird leaves later in the season, the virtual fence can be turned off. Virtual fencing gives farmers a quick easy way to protect native flora and fauna.
  5. Cleaning Up Creeks - In New Zealand a creek may be defined as any moving body of water that is higher than your average rubber farm boot. And with a new initiative to clean up the creeks, cattle can no longer roam free over waterways. Virtual fencing allows a manager to quickly create a barrier to a newly formed waterway and once the water has subsided, the fence can be taken down again with a simple push of a button.
  6. Protect Feed Bales - Cattle producers make hay while the sun shines and then often store those bales out in pastures. Cattle may be grazing in an area that contains bales for later use in the winter. Virtual fencing lets a farmer "fence off" the bales so that cattle do not start eating the bales out of turn.
  7. Develop Flawless Luxury Leather - Barbed wire fencing not only traps wildlife, often causing death or injury, but also injures the hide of cattle as they come into contact with the fence. This in turn creates a scar on their skin. Top leather merchants are looking for flawless leather. Cattle raised with virtual fencing will have less lesions, marks and spots on their skin and the animal will fetch a higher price at market.
  8. Regenerate Eroded Soil Areas -Beef producers in Northern Queensland are planning to use cattle to rejuvenate eroded top soil in flood plain areas. Virtual fencing allows the station manager to concentrate animals in an eroded area where their hooves can break up the clay pan. With manure and careful management, the soil can regenerate.
  9. Protect the Pipe - Pipeline companies often have to bury their pipes through cattle country. It is cost prohibitive to erect fencing only for a few months as the crews work their way across farmland. Yet these areas must be separated from cattle. Virtual Fencing allows a temporary barrier to be placed between the cattle and the pipe until the pipe is buried and construction equipment removed. The farmer may then keep the fence in place until the grass has rejuvenated. The fence can then be turned off. This approach can save a great deal of money while benefitting both the company and the property.
  10. Reclaim Mining Land - A mining company in Australia is using eShepherd virtual fencing to aid in pasture management of former mining areas. The virtual fence enables the company to carefully place cattle in areas where the land has been degraded and keep them away from other fragile areas that still need protection. With 24/7 monitoring of the cattle, the company can provide accurate reports to demonstrate the progress of restoration after mining activities have taken place.

To find our more visit the Agersens website here and follow on Facebook here.

eSheperd for automated grazing control


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