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CQUni-led sheep ear-tagging project is the first-of-its-kind in Queensland

Published:29 November 2019

CQUniversity lead researcher Dr Jaime Manning, and Paul Doneley, Dunraven Station, Barcaldine deploying the AWI smart ear tag as part of a joint project. Photos courtesy of Louise Gronold Imagery and Australian Wool Innovation.

In a Queensland-first, CQUniversity, Australian Wool Innovation and Advance Queensland will work with Dunraven Station in Barcaldine to fit smart ear tags to a mob of sheep as part of a three-year project.

CQUni lead researcher on the project and Agriculture lecturer Dr Jaime Manning recently visited the 25 495ha sheep and cattle station, 20km south-west of Barcaldine, with a small team earlier this month to fit the ear tags and install the tag readers.

The project is testing AWI's smart sensor ear tags which have demonstrated an excellent ability to increase the level of livestock monitoring and thereby potentially increase profitability, provided the tags can withstand the harsh conditions we face in regional Australia.

“One of the biggest challenges we face is the difficult environment our commercial sheep grazing systems face in terms of remoteness, terrain and topography,” Dr Manning said.

“We therefore need technology that can survive in this harsh environment, but that is also capable of providing us with information on individuals when there is limited connectivity.

“After deploying the AWI smart ear tag, we now have access to real time information on individual sheep at Dunraven. This is a massive benefit for our producers to have the ability to monitor their sheep, without having to go out in the paddock."

Dr Manning said future benefits to the sheep industry will be when alerts have been developed to detect key issues such as predation and disease detection – both of which are currently being investigated by CQUniversity.

Dunraven Station Producer Paul Doneley said the project had significant potential for his property and the wider sheep industry.

“Two of the main health benefits I foresee with the AWI smart ear tag is being able to detect when my animals are affected by disease or being predated,” he said.

“Being able to monitor the flock from the comfort of the homestead and receiving real time information on them is a huge step forward to improve welfare, productivity and profitability on farm”

“It is terrific to see this technology be tested on real life commercial conditions on a large-scale property.”

It’s expected that the smart ear tags will be rolled out at more properties in Queensland and NSW in early 2020.