Precision Livestock Management

CQUniversity’s Precision Livestock Management (PLM) team is recognised as the national leader in the field of tropical livestock research.

Located in the heart of the tropical beef industry, our research team is headquartered in the Beef Capital, Rockhampton, with access to state of the art laboratory facilities as well as the renowned Belmont Research Station for field trials. With strong links to industry, and producer participation in our trials, our research program has a strong emphasis on being relevant to industry needs and delivering practical solutions to the challenges producers face.

Our area of speciality is the use of cutting edge technology to automatically gather phenotypic data such as animal liveweight, pregnancy status and parentage, as well as improve the understanding of animal behaviours, all with a view to improving on-farm profitability and productivity.

Data gathered by CQUniversity’s PLM program is already supporting the cattle industry’s genetic research, assisting in the identification of animals which are more productive and fertile. And through our ‘DataMusterTM’ app, producers can make more informed management decisions, such as quickly and easily identifying animals ready for market or those which may have health problems. The system has been shown to reduce on-farm labour costs by automatically monitoring animal growth rates and access to water.

Our PLM team members are also supporting the long-term development of the industry by sharing their knowledge with students enrolled in CQUniversity’s Bachelor of Agriculture. This course is unique in its combination of higher education, vocational training, research engagement and industry extension, and has been designed to provide students with the right mix of practical, skills-based training and exposure to the latest research and technology.


Specialist research skills in:

  • Tropical livestock breeding and management
  • Animal behaviour, including social networks, water/plant/animal interactions
  • Genetic phenotyping for current and new traits using new and automated methods of measurement
  • The interaction of phenotypic performance with nutrition and wellbeing
  • Automated data capture and analysis
  • Sensors and digital technologies for the enhancement of whole of system management
  • Education and extension, with all projects including a communications component.
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Video Transcript

Most people now realise one of the most productive traits in Northern Australia is fertility and we're seeing the data that we're collecting with CQUni and their walk over weighing really helps us collate very intensive measurements that give us an indication of the quickest re-breeders and the more fertile cattle in the herd.

So we're looking at automated ways of recording the fertility performance of cattle in remote locations. You know, done the hard yards with the research and now it's about bringing those online through the data master application to deliver those solutions to industry.

Essentially, you know 100 years ago we had people out riding around herds and flocks looking at individual animals and making sure they were all right. We can't do that anymore and so what we're trying to do is take sensors and use the sensors in place of that really intensive observation. The big things we're looking at is animal health and so trying to detect disease states remotely while animals are out in the paddock. If we can do that, there's a chance that we can step in and actually prevent further animals from getting that disease or getting to actually fix up animals that are having a problem. Yeah so we're working with a number of different technologies, so with collars and ear tags. One of the most interesting and really simple results came through recently, where we can really clearly pick up buffalo fly infestation off some of these sensor ear tags and it's not rocket science, they obviously flick their head around a lot and we can pick that up with the sensor. But that's really important because if we can start to detect that remotely when animals are out in the paddock, we can really start to see when an infestation is starting to build up and start treatment earlier than we might have.

Being able to successfully use these devices as a welfare monitoring tool gives producers the power to prove to consumers and society that their animals are being looked after in a welfare friendly manner, and this opens up all kinds of welfare opportunities. It also allows producers to improve their productivity by intervening earlier than what they normally would on their properties.

We will try to get the balance across the learning program and the applied research program that delivers graduates that are able to go out either in their own businesses, or as valued employees that will be able to create good business opportunities, lift production, understand what it is to work in a team and across a value-added supply chain.

Central Queensland Livestock Centre of Excellence

The Central Queensland Livestock Centre of Excellence is a newly formed research partnership between CQUniversity Australia, AgForce Queensland, the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) and the Qld Agricultural Training Colleges (QATC).

Our focus is to:

  • deliver improved on-farm productivity and practice change
  • work with producers in designing and undertaking R&D activities
  • specialise in digital technologies to boost herd management, genetic performance and financial literacy.

We are unique in our ability to bring together the industry’s first integrated group of beef research sites in Central Queensland, encompassing the cattle production chain from stud, breeder and finisher operations and headquartered in the Beef Capital of Rockhampton.

Our research activities are framed by extensive producer engagement and projects are designed to include producer participants to guarantee the relevance of our solutions and encourage adoption.

Trials are conducted at our world-class laboratories at CQUniversity and at four research stations located at AgForce's 'Belmont', Rockhampton; and QATC's 'Berrigurra', Emerald, 'Narayen', Mundubbera, and 'Rosebank', Longreach.

These stations act as research 'hubs' in our 'hub and spoke' model of working with producers in developing and extending new technologies onto real-world farm businesses. The hubs also link with RD&E activity at the AgForce-owned and DAF-managed Brian Pastures facility near Gayndah, and the DAF-owned Spyglass facility near Charters Towers.

Producers are involved from the start with producer-owned cattle used during proof of concept phase at the 'hubs', before technologies are deployed to private 'spoke' properties which act as remote demonstration sites for cattle communities to test systems in their own environments.

CQ Livestock Centre Research Facilities
Belmont Research StationBelmont Research Station

Owned by producer-group AgForce, the 3260-hectare “Belmont” is located 37km north of Rockhampton on the Fitzroy River. It delivers a unique collaborative approach by providing the ideal environment for research into livestock production in the tropics and sub-tropics of northern Australia, along with facilities for research and education. The station’s research and breeding program officially began in 1953 to develop new tick-resistant cattle breeds to replace the British Hereford and Shorthorn cattle herds, which then dominated grazing in northern Australia.

Central Queensland Innovation Research PrecinctCentral Queensland Innovation Research Precinct (CQIRP)

This facility originally opened in 1981 as the CSIRO JM Rendel Laboratories with work focussed on the tropically adapted cattle breeding. The labs operated in conjunction with CSIRO’s field research at nearby Belmont Research Station. They were named after James Meadows Rendel who moved from England to Australia in 1951 to join CSIRO and was appointed Chief of the Division of Animal Genetics in 1959. The JM Rendel labs closed in 2009 following Federal funding cuts to CSIRO. In 2011, CQUniversity invested $6M to purchase the facility and restore it to working order, with work focussed on agriculture, water and environmental management. A further $2.8M has since been invested in refurbishing and equipping the CQIRP precinct, including two new wet labs and two new dry labs, and back-up power to provide an emergency response centre for the campus.

Berrigura Property'Berrigura', Emerald and 'Rosebank', Longreach

“Berrigurra” is a breeding and finishing property forming part of the Emerald Agricultural College. The 9300ha property is located 20km west of Blackwater and borders the McKenzie River. It runs a Belmont Red composite herd, consisting of more than 800 breeders and followers. Breeding outcomes are focused on fertility, adaptability to the environment, growth rates and producing high performing steers to be finished at the college feedlot. The herd at “Berrigurra” is regarded as being in the top 10% nationally, with >92% weaning rates consistently achieved. Further west, ‘Rosebank’ forms part of the Longreach Pastoral College, which specialises in intensive and arid zone livestock production (both beef and sheep).

Research Projects
CASE STUDY: DATA MUSTERTM

Data Muster - Dave Swain Image

Part and parcel of the romance of north Australia’s cattle industry are the extreme wet and dry seasons, the big skies, vast expanses of bush, and the ringer’s life of mustering big mobs out from the scrub.

The trouble for the beef industry is that this tough environment is also tough on the business bottom line. Case in point being the low fertility rates in northern Australian herds, where 47% calving rates are normal, according to industry body Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA).

Calving rate has a massive impact on profit - the more calves born per cow, the more productive and profitable a herd is, and in southern areas cattle breeders average close to 90%.

MLA research also shows that the top 25% of producers in the region (ie those operating profitably) are acutely focused on their genetics, their pastures, and their labour efficiency. As a result they achieve higher reproductive rates, lower mortality rates and heavier sale weights.

Overcoming those barriers to profitability for the bottom 75% of producers is new innovation from CQUniversity’s Precision Livestock Management (PLM) program, led by Professor Dave Swain in Rockhampton. Forming part of CQUniversity’s Institute for Future Farming Systems, the PLM team is on the cusp of rolling out a groundbreaking new individual animal monitoring technology onto grazing properties across Central and North Queensland.

Known as ‘DataMusterTM’, the technology integrates on-farm walk-over-weighing systems, low-band width data transmission technology, and sophisticated analysis systems to deliver real time information about individual animals and infrastructure direct to a mobile app.

“The challenge facing the North Australian beef industry remains the same as it did a century ago: identifying superior genetics which can thrive in harsh and remote environmental conditions, with limited human intervention,” Prof. Swain said.

“With a fully integrated DataMusterTM system, graziers will be able to monitor their property, each of their animals and even the amount of water in remote troughs, all in real time from the homestead.

“This will not only improve their profitability by cutting down on labour costs, it will improve their herd management decisions by providing them with information on cattle weight and suitability for market, whether or not a cow is pregnant, when she has calved, and vital genetic data such as the maternal parentage, reproductive efficiency and growth rates.”

DataMusterTM has been developed over the last five years and tested in real-world conditions at Belmont, a research property just north of Rockhampton owned by farmer association, AgForce.

CQUniversity will work with a range of industry partners to undertake commercial field trials to test the DataMusterTM system on privately owned properties around Queensland.

“End-user engagement is a crucial part of all our agriculture research at CQUniversity, and this pilot trial is a crucial step as we begin discussions with potential commercialisation partners,” Prof. Swain said.

“An added benefit of the pilot trial will be to open the flow of phenotypic data to the industry’s genetic analysis system Breedplan. We believe that if DataMusterTM is rolled out across northern Australia, the information gathered will dramatically enhance analysis of genetic linkages between herds, allowing producers to more accurately select bulls and cows which are highly fertile, and whose progeny will grow faster than their ancestors while consuming less pasture.

“For the producer this means more beef produced per hectare, bolstering their bottom line and the nation’s export returns; for the consumer it means industry can select genetics that are known to produce tender beef; and for the environment it will reduce the amount of grazing pressure on ground cover and waterways.”

But that won’t be the end of the story for the PLM team, which is already working to expand the scope of the app to provide predictive capability to further improve on-farm decision making.

This will include: pasture monitoring and weather data to forecast available nutrition and stocking capacity; price signals from abattoirs so that producers can determine when they have stock that fit market specifications; and meat quality information for processors, with MSA grading and meat tenderness directly linked to on-farm growth rates and animal nutrition.

“While conditions out in the big country are as challenging as ever, it’s an exciting time to be working with producers and industry partners to make a real difference to the profibability of northern beef producers,” Prof. Swain said.

DataMusterTM - How it works
  • Strategically placed weigh scales, known as Walk-Over-Weighing systems, capture the daily weights of individual animals as they walk to water troughs
  • Taggle telemetry systems capture and send data on individual animal location and water levels in troughs
  • Data is automatically analysed on-site using Raspberry Pi units and transmitted to a cloud-based server
  • Low-band width technology is used to overcome remote internet access issues
  • Data is presented to farmers in a user-friendly app display which supports improved herd management decision-making.

Website: www.datamuster.net.au

CALF ALERT

Calf Alert Image

Research into widespread calf loss in cattle herds across northern Australia is being accelerated, thanks to a new tool which alerts researchers when a calf is born and provides location details.

Up to 70 per cent of the losses between pregnancy testing and weaning are believed to occur around birth, but unless calving occurs near watering holes the newborns are rarely seen and the cause of death can’t be identified.

Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) is helping to fund the development of the calf alert device by Associate Professor Scott Norman from Charles Sturt University and Professor Dave Swain from Central Queensland University.

MLA’s CashCow project examined the causes of poor reproductive performance in northern Australian beef herds - one of its major findings across all regions studied was that calf loss was having a large impact on reproductive performance – much more so than annual conception rates.

It was highest in maiden heifers, which are the largest age cohort in any breeder herd.

Associate Professor Norman said the intra-uterine device is designed to be inserted during pregnancy testing. When expelled at calving, it starts emitting a radio signal that can be detected from a tower or even an unmanned aerial vehicle.

“Prior to this research, it has been extremely difficult to produce a device that could be retained for three to four months,” Associate Professor Norman said. “However, retention rates of 85 per cent are now being achieved at the Belmont Research Station near Rockhampton with the calf alert device. 

“Work is continuing to improve the strength and reception of the signal so more calving events can be reliably identified.”

Professor Swain said calf loss had a significant impact on producer profits, and the ability to identify a sample of cows calving would provide fresh insights into the major causes.

“It could allow researchers to check the health of calves when they’re born and to know if they were stillbirths, or if they got up and suckled. Even knowing if a calf has been born alive, answers a lot of questions,” Professor Swain said.

“From a producer’s point of view, there is potential to advance genetic improvement programs, as the ability to identify the date of calving is an important measure of fertility in terms of days-to-calving.”

Other devices are also being developed to help with calf loss research, such as activity monitors which detect changing behavioural patterns around calving to help identify good mothers and bad mothers.

“There’s a lot of really interesting technology we’re using in this field and there’s no question that ongoing support of this research will help change the way the beef industry operates,” Professor Swain said.

The PLM Team
Professor Dave Swain Photo
David Swain - Professor of Agriculture

Dave Swain is recognised nationally as a leader in the field of precision livestock management and has chaired the Northern Australian Beef Research Committee (NABRC) working group for strategic planning in the area of precision livestock management. Throughout his career Dave has been a project leader for more than 10 collaborative research projects including three large European Union international grants. Dave led a $1.5 million federally funded project that explored the opportunity for autonomous cattle control (virtual fencing) to protect riparian areas in extensive grazing systems.  As a Principal Research Scientist in CSIRO he was involved in establishing a new capability in precision livestock management (PLM) to address issues associated with livestock-environment interactions. The PLM work involved his leadership in developing wireless sensor network capability for livestock research and associated livestock management.

Current research projects:
  • Development and validation of novel tools to assess reproductive traits and improve beef cattle reproductive efficiency - Meat and Livestock Australia
  • Calf Alert – Developing an Automated calving alert detector – Meat and Livestock Australia
  • Smart Farm Learning Hub – Office of Learning and Teaching
  • Project Pioneer III – Commonwealth Reef Trust and RCS Agriculture
  • CQUni Post-Doc – Kym Patison
Industry and funding partners:
  • Meat and Livestock Australia
  • Federal Government, Office of Learning and Teaching
  • Project Pioneer
Publications:

  • Finger, A., Patison, K. P., Heath, B. M., & Swain, D. L. (2013).  Changes in the group associations of free-ranging beef cows at calving. Animal Production Science, 54(3), 270–276. http://doi.org/10.1071/AN12423
  • Handcock, R., Swain, D., Bishop-Hurley, G., Patison, K., Wark, T., Valencia, P., et al. (2009). Monitoring animal behaviour and environmental interactions using wireless sensor networks, GPS collars and satellite remote sensing. Sensors, 9(5), 3586–3603.
  • Patison, K. P., Quintane, E., Swain, D. L., Robins, G., & Pattison, P. (2015). Time is of the essence: an application of a relational event model for animal social networks. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 69(5), 841–855.
  • Swain, D. L., Patison, K. P., Heath, B. M., Bishop-Hurley, G. J., & Finger, A. (2015). Pregnant cattle associations and links to maternal reciprocity. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 168, 10–17.
  • Swain, D., Friend, M., Bishop-Hurley, G., Handcock, R., & Wark, T. (2011). Tracking livestock using global positioning systems – are we still lost? Animal Production Science, 51(3), 167–175.

H Index: 17

Students under supervision:
  • Lauren Williams, PhD candidate, CQUniversity – Development of automated field based solutions to quantify the drinking activities of cattle in northern Australian
  • Chris O’Neill, PhD candidate, CQUniversity - The social context on mating and maternal investment of beef cattle in northern Australia
  • Harpreet Kour, PhD Candidate, CQUniversity – Maternal Investment
  • Nev Doyle, PhD candidate, CQUniversity – Process monitoring of feed lot using infrared spectroscopy

Mark Trotter Phot
Mark Trotter - Associate Professor - Precision Livestock

Mark’s research focuses on spatio-temproal variability in agricultural systems and the development fo sensors and management techniques that enable producers to increase production and efficiency in the face of variation found in soils, plants and animals. Mark's key areas of interest include developing biomass sensors (AOS and Lidar) for pastures and location (GPS) and behaviour (IMU) sensors for animal monitoring. In 2015 Mark led a research group which received an ERA band 5 rating for the Agriculture Land and Farm Management (0701) category. In the last 2 years Mark has spoken at 27 industry events connecting with over 1,000 farmers and 500 industry professionals.

Mark is recognised as a leading agricultural educator having developed unique industry integrated pedagogies which have been recognised by the Office for Learning and Teaching. His students, both undergraduate and post-graduate are keenly sought after by both the research and commercial sector.

Current research projects:
  • SMARTfarm Learning Hub: Next generation technologies for agricultural education – Office for Learning and Teaching
  • Biomass Business 2 - Real-time biomass estimation in pastures – CRC for Spatial Information and Meat & Livestock Australia
  • Spatially Enabled Livestock Management: Maintaining ground cover in mixed farming systems – Mallee Sustainable Farming and CRC for Spatial Information
  • A Big Data approach to estimating live weight gain for Australia’s cattle industry – Australian Agricultural Company (AACo) and CRC for Spatial Information
  • Autonomous Real-time subclinical disease detection in sheep (PhD Scholarship top up) – Sheep CRC
  • Spatio-temporal visualisation of irrigated cotton root development in Eastern Australia – Cotton RDC and CRC for Spatial Information
  • Monitoring systems for wellbeing and productivity – Sheep CRC
  • Optimum N - Smarter and more responsible application of nitrogenous fertilisers to NZ's pastoral farms – NZ Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment
Publications:
  • Fogarty, ES, Manning, JK, Trotter, MG, Schneider, DA, Thomson, PC, Bush, RD, Cronin, GM (2015) GNSS technology and its application for improved reproductive management in extensive sheep systems. Animal Production Science 55, 1272–1280.
  • Dobos, RC, Taylor, DB, Trotter, MG, McCorkell, BE, Schneider, DA, Hinch, GN (2015) Characterising activities of free-ranging Merino ewes before, during and after lambing from GNSS data. Small Ruminant Research 131, 12-16.
  • Cosby, AM, Falzon, GA, Trotter, MG, Stanley, JN, Powell, KS, Lamb, DW (2015) Risk mapping of redheaded cockchafer (Adoryphorus couloni) (Burmeister) infestations using a combination of novel k-means clustering and on-the-go plant and soil sensing technologies. Precision Agriculture 17, 1-17.
  • Trotter, M, Guppy, C, Haling, R, Edwards, C, Trotter, T, Lamb, D (2014) Spatial variability in pH and key soil nutrients: is this an opportunity to increase fertiliser and lime use efficiency in grazing systems? Crop and Pasture Science 65, 817-827.
  • Rahman, MM, Stanley, JN, Lamb, DW, Trotter, MG (2014a) Methodology for measuring fAPAR in crops using a combination of active optical and linear irradiance sensors: a case study in Triticale (X Triticosecale Wittmack). Precision Agriculture 1-11.
  • Rahman, MM, Lamb, DW, Stanley, JN, Trotter, MG (2014b) Use of proximal sensors to evaluate at the sub-paddock scale a pasture growth-rate model based on light-use efficiency. Crop and Pasture Science 65, 400-409.
  • Manning, J, Fogarty, E, Trotter, M, Schneider, D, Thomson, P, Bush, R, Cronin, G (2014) A pilot study into the use of GNSS technology to quantify the behavioural responses of sheep during simulated dog predation events. Animal Production Science 54, 1676-1681.
  • Lower, T, Trotter, M (2014) Adoption of quad bike crush prevention devices on Australian dairy farms. J Agromedicine 19, 15-26.
  • Evered, M, Burling, P, Trotter, M (2014) An Investigation of Predator Response in Robotic Herding of Sheep. International Proceedings of Chemical Biological and Environmental Engineering 63, 49-54.
  • Dobos, R, Dickson, S, Bailey, DW, Trotter, M (2014) The use of GNSS technology to identify lambing behaviour in pregnant grazing Merino ewes Animal Production Science 54, 1722-1727.

H Index: 9

Students under supervision:
  • Eloise Fogarty, Ph.D. Candidate – Autonomous real-time, life-long monitoring of welfare through integrated on-animal sensing (2016-2019).
  • Jamie Barwick, Ph.D. Candidate (UNE) – Remote autonomous sub-clinical disease detection in sheep (2013-2016).
  • Morgan Chau, Masters Candidate (UNE) – Sky Shepherd - developing Remote Piloted Aircraft to measure pasture and increase productivity in grazing systems (2016-2018).
  • James Bishop, Ph.D. Candidate (UNE) - Bioacoustic monitoring for sheep welfare research and flock Management (2016-2019).
  • Robert McDougal, Ph.D. Candidate (UNE) – A comparison of ecosystem services and productivity in urban agriculture in developed and developing economies (2015-2018).
  • Christiane Bahlo, Ph.D. Candidate (Federation University) Developing and implementing interoperative agricultural data exchange systems for animal welfare (2015-2018).
  • Peter Burling, Ph.D. Candidate (University of Southern Queensland) Developing and embedding an autonomous ground vehicle in the sheep herd to recognise, report and deter unauthorised dog intrusions (2015-2018).
  • Levi Mutambo, Ph.D. Candidate (University of Canterbury NZ) - Spatial Data Infrastructure and Volunteered Geographic Information (2014-2017).
  • Paul Goodhue, Ph.D. Candidate (University of Canterbury NZ) – Crowd sourcing validation for the Biomass Business 2 Project (2014-2017).
  • Peter McEntee, Ph.D. Candidate (Curtin University WA) – Precision agriculture tools to understand the variability in mixed farming systems (2011-2016).

Daniel Cozzolino Photograph
Daniel Cozzolino - Associate Professor - Agriculture

Dr Daniel Cozzolino is an Associate Professor within the School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences and Discipline Lead for the Bachelor of Agriculture program at CQUniversity, Rockhampton.  He graduated from the Universidad de la Republica (Montevideo, Uruguay) as an Agricultural Engineer/Agronomy in 1989 and obtained his PhD from the University of Aberdeen (Aberdeen, Scotland) in 1998. His research career started in 1993 with the development of near infrared (NIR) applications for a wide range of agricultural products at the National Institute for Agricultural Research (INIA-Uruguay) before joining in 2002 the Australian Wine Research Institute (Senior Research Scientist, Team Leader Rapid Analytical Method (AWRI) based in Adelaide (South Australia). Between 2011 and 2015 he was Research Fellow with the Barley Breeding Program (The University of Adelaide, Australia). His principal area of research is investigating applications of spectroscopy (NIR, MIR, VIS) and chemometrics in a wide range of agricultural products. He has published more than 300 articles in refereed journals, book chapters or reviews and more than 250 miscellaneous publications. In 2013, Daniel received the Tomas Hirschfeld Award for his contributions to NIR spectroscopy.

Publications:

  • Roberts, J.J.; Cozzolino, D. (2016). Wet or dry? The effect of sample characteristics on the determination of soil properties by near infrared spectroscopy. Trends in Analytical Chemistry 83: 25-30.
  • Cozzolino, D.; Roberts, J.J. (2016). Applications and developments on the use of vibrational spectroscopy imaging for the analysis, monitoring and characterisation of crops and plants. Molecules 21: 755-763.
  • Cozzolino, D. (2016). Near infrared spectroscopy as a tool to monitor contaminants in soil, sediments and water – state of the art, advantages and pitfalls. Trends in Environmental Analytical Chemistry 9: 1-7
  • Cozzolino, D.; Porker, K.; Laws, M. (2015). An overview on the use of infrared sensors for in field, proximal and at harvest monitoring of cereal crops.  Agriculture 5: 713-722.
  • Cozzolino, D. (2015). The role of vibrational spectroscopy as tool to assess economical motivated fraud and counterfeit issues in agricultural products and foods. Analytical Methods 7: 9390-9400.

H Index: 37

Students under supervision:
  • Mr Nev Doyle, PhD candidate, CQUniversity – Process monitoring of feed lot using infrared spectroscopy
  • Miss Joe Gambetta, PhD Candidate, University of Adelaide – Objective measurements of Chardonnay wines – from vineyard to barrel.

Kym PatisonDr Kym Patison - Senior Research Officer

Kym’s research has focused on the use of telemetry devices to monitor animal behaviour and the application of novel analytical approaches to interpret continuous event stream data. Kym completed her PhD with The University of Melbourne and CSIRO on the social behaviour of cattle. Kym is a member of the CQUniversity Animal Ethics Committee. Her career aspiration is to make a significant contribution to Australian agriculture by improving animal welfare and farm productivity whilst benefiting the environment.

Current research projects:
  • Development and validation of novel tools to assess reproductive traits and improve beef cattle reproductive efficiency (MLA)
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow (CQU)
Industry and funding partners:
  • MLA
  • CQUniversity
  • Charles Sturt University (previous collaboration)
  • Fitzroy Basin Association (previous collaboration)
Publications:

  • Menzies D., Patison K.P., Fox D., Swain D.L. (2016) A scoping study to assess the precision of an automated radiolaction tracking system. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture 124:175-183
  • Patison K.P., Quintane, E., Swain D.L., Robins G., Pattison P. (2015) Time is of the essence: an application of a relational event model for animal social networks. Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology 69(5):841-855.
  • Swain, D.L., Patison, K.P., Heath, B.M., Bishop-Hurley, G.J., Finger, A. (2015) Pregnant cattle associations and links to maternal reciprocity. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 168:10-17.
  • Finger, A., Patison, K.P., Heath, B.M., Swain, D.L. (2014) Changes in the group associations of free-ranging beef cows at calving. Animal Production Science 54 (3):270-276. doi: http://www.publish.csiro.au/an/AN12423.
  • Patison, K.P., Swain, D.L., Bishop-Hurley, G.J., Robins, G., Pattison, P., Reid, D.J., 2010. Changes in temporal and spatial associations between pairs of cattle during the process of familiarisation. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 128 (1-4), 10-17.
  • Patison K.P., Swain D.L, Bishop-Hurley G.J, Pattison, P. and Robins, G (2010). Social companionship versus food: The effect of the presence of familiar and unfamiliar conspecifics on the distance steers travel. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 122:13-20.
  • Handcock R.N., Swain D.L., Bishop-Hurley G.J., Patison K.P., Wark, T., Valencia P., Corke P., O’Neill C.J. (2009). Monitoring animal behaviour and environmental interactions using wireless sensor networks, GPS collars and satellite remote sensing. Sensors, 9: 3586-3603.

H Index: 4

Students under supervision:

Dr Amy Cosby Photo
Dr Amy Cosby - Senior Research Officer - Agri-tech Education and Innovation

Dr Amy Cosby is a researcher and practitioner in agricultural education. She is currently a Senior Research Officer at Central Queensland University and holds a PhD in precision agriculture and a Bachelor of Agriculture and Bachelor of Laws. Amy works with educators, researcher and industry professionals to develop innovative programs to increase the skills and knowledge of teachers and students in agri-tech.

Current research projects:
  • GPS Cows: Improving digital literacy & engagement in rural students through an applied Agri-tech learning resource
Industry and funding partners:
  • Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
  • New South Wales Department of Education
  • Queensland Agricultural Training College
Publications:

  • Cosby, A., Flavel, R., Botwright, T., Fasso, W., Gregory, S, and Trotter, M. (2017). Implementing a ‘real industry technology learning systems’ module in agronomy within higher education systems. In: Doing more with less, Proceedings of 18th Australian Agronomy Conference, 24-28 September 2017, Ballarat, Australia. Online Community Publishing.
  • Kennedy, A.L.,and Cosby, A.M, (2017). ‘Agricultural Land Use Conflict in the Context of Climate Change: An Australian Case Study’ in Research Handbook on Climate and Agricultural Law, Angelo, M.J., and du Plessis, A. (eds.), Edward Elgar Publishing.
  • Cosby, A., Trotter M., Jones, B., Acuna Botwright, T., Fasso, W. and Gregory, S. (2017). Increasing the employability of agriculture graduates through the development of real industry technology learning systems: examining a case study in an online farm mapping system (PA Source). In 23rd European Seminar on Extension (and) Education: Transformative Learning: New Directions in Agricultural Extension and Education, 4-7 July 2017.
  • Trotter, M., Cosby, A., Trotter, T., Botwright Acuna, T., Rizk, N., Taylor, S. and Fasso, W. (2016). SMARTFARM learning hub: Next generation precision agriculture technologies for agricultural education. In 2016 Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education (ACSME) (pp. 129-130).
  • Cosby, A., and Trotter, M. (2014) Introducing precision agriculture to high school students in Australia. In 12th International Conference on Precision Agriculture, Sacramento, California, USA, 20-23 July 2014.
Students under supervision:
  • Robin Rayner – Doctor of Education

Dr Jamie ManningDr Jaime Manning - Research Officer

Jaime Manning is a research officer in Precision Livestock with the Precision Livestock Management team at CQUniversity and is currently working on a project with the CRCSI to improve the accuracy of tracking technologies for a variety of livestock applications. In 2013, she received a Bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Bioscience (First Class Honours) after completing an honours project researching the use of GPS technology to detect the predation of sheep. Her PhD was also undertaken at The University of Sydney, and investigated heterogeneity in pasture systems, and how it affects cattle production, paddock utilisation and behaviour using livestock tracking and pasture sensor technologies. Jaime's main interests are using and incorporating technology on farm to improve the level of monitoring and welfare of livestock (cattle and sheep), whilst providing invaluable information into how we manage livestock and detect issues as they arise in extensive production systems.

Current research projects:
  • Increased accuracy in on-animal spatio-temporal monitoring for livestock sensing applications (CRCSI and CQUni)
Industry and funding partners:
  • CRC for Spatial Information (CRCSI)
Publications:

  • Manning, J., Cronin, G., González, L., Hall, E., Merchant, A., Ingram, L., 2017. The Behavioural Responses of Beef Cattle (Bos taurus) to Declining Pasture Availability and the Use of GNSS Technology to Determine Grazing Preference. Agriculture, vol. 7, p. 45.
  • Manning, JK, Cronin, GM, González, LA, Hall, EJS, Merchant, A, and Ingram, LJ 2017. The effects of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) collars on cattle (Bos taurus) behaviour. Applied animal behaviour science vol. 187, pp. 54-59.
  • Manning JK, Fogarty ES, Trotter MG, Schneider DA, Thomson, PC, Bush RD and Cronin GM 2014. A pilot study into the use of Global Navigation Satellite System technology to quantify the behavioural responses of sheep during simulated dog predation events. Journal of Animal Production Science, vol. 54, no. 10, pp. 1676-1681
  • Fogarty ES, Manning JK, Trotter MG, Schneider DA, Thomson PC, Bush RD and Cronin GM 2014. GNSS technology and its application for improved reproductive management in extensive sheep systems. Journal of Animal Production Science, vol. 55, no. 10, pp. 1272-1280
  • Van der Saag, D., White, P., Ingram, L., Manning, J., Windsor, P., Thomson, P., & Lomax, S. (2018). Effects of Topical Anaesthetic and Buccal Meloxicam Treatments on Concurrent Castration and Dehorning of Beef Calves. Animals, vol. 8, p. 35.
Conference proceedings:
  • Manning JK, Cronin GM, González LA, Merchant A and Ingram LJ 2016. The impact of forage availability on livestock behaviour in Australian heterogeneous paddocks. Proceedings of the Australian Society of Animal Production and the New Zealand Society of Animal Production conference, 4-7 July, Adelaide SA Australia
  • Manning JK, Cronin GM, González LA, Merchant A and Ingram LJ 2016. The drivers of cattle grazing behaviour in South Eastern Australian heterogeneous (non uniform) paddocks: the effect of pasture biomass. Proceedings of the International Rangeland Congress, 17-22 July, Saskatoon Saskatchewan Canada, pp.  1110-1112
  • Ingram LJ, Edwards JR, Manning JK, Bishop T and Cronin GM 2016. Driving Miss Daisy: Factors Controlling Sheep Behaviour in Australian Grasslands. Proceedings of the International Rangeland Congress, 17-22 July Saskatoon Saskatchewan Canada, pp.  1168-1170
  • Manning JK, Cronin GM, González LA, Merchant A and Ingram LJ 2016.  The effect of pasture biomass on the grazing behaviour of beef cattle. Proceedings of the sixth Australian and New Zealand Spatially Enabled Livestock Management Symposium, 31 March-1 April 2016, Camden NSW Australia, pp. 6-7.
  • Manning JK, Cronin GM, González LA, Merchant A and Ingram LJ 2016. Heterogeneity in extensive production systems: how does it affect the grazing preference of beef cattle? Proceedings of the ASAP postgraduate workshop, 2-3 February 2016, Camden NSW Australia, p. 8.
  • Manning JK 2015. Turning research data into practical on farm information for producers: how can we determine the grazing preference of livestock? Sixth annual C9-Go8 ‘'Big Data: Graduate Perspectives from China and Australia' forum, 28 October -1 November 2015, Nanjing China, pp.32-33
  • Manning JK, Fogarty ES, Trotter MG, Schneider DA, Thomson, PC, Bush RD and Cronin GM 2013. Can remote sensing technology improve the welfare of sheep during predation events? ‘Forward thinking: Applying ethology to solve behaviour and welfare questions’, Proceedings from the International Society of Applied Ethology (ISAE) Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and Africa regional meeting, October 29 2014, Sydney NSW Australia, p. 9
  • Manning JK, Fogarty ES, Trotter MG, Schneider DA, Thomson, PC, Bush RD and Cronin GM 2013. Using GPS technology to quantify the behavioural responses of sheep during simulated dog predation events. Proceedings of the fourth Australian and New Zealand Spatially Enabled Livestock Management Symposium, 26-27 September 2013, Camden NSW Australia, pp. 37-38.

Nicholas Corbet
Nicholas Corbet - Research Officer

Mr Nick Corbet commenced his career in Agriculture in 1977 studying Animal Production at the University of Queensland (UQ), Gatton. There followed over 30 years of research in cattle production and reproduction with CSIRO and UQ/QAAFI, working closely with beef producers. Nick completed a Master of Applied Science degree at CQUniversity in 2005 and has extensive research experience in cattle genetics and reproduction using ultrasound imaging for reproduction and live body composition studies; evaluating factors controlling early puberty in heifers; and formulating strategies to improve herd fertility in tropical beef breeds. Nick is now looking to extend his reproduction and quantitative genetics skills to evaluate genetic parameters for traits derived from telemetry and social network analyses and how they relate to reproductive efficiency.

Current research projects:
  • Reproductive Efficiency Project – MLA funded, led by Kym Patison, CQUniversity
  • Repronomics Project – MLA/UNE funded, led by David Johnston, AGBU
  • Brahman BIN Project – ABBA funded, led by John Croaker, ABBA
Publications:
  • Corbet N.J., Allen J.M., Laing A., Fordyce G., McGowan M.R. and Burns B.M. (2016) Using ultrasound to derive new reproductive traits in tropical beef breeds: implications for genetic evaluation. Animal Production Science, (Submitted).
  • Menzies D., Patison K.P., Corbet N.J. and Swain D.L. (2016) Using temporal associations to determine maternal parentage in extensive beef herds. Animal Production Science, (Accepted).
  • Rego J.P.A., Crisp J.M., Moura A.A., Nouwens A.S., Li Y., Venus B., Corbet N.J., Corbet D.H., Burns B.M., Boe-Hansen G.B. and McGowan M.R. (2014) Seminal plasma proteome of electro-ejaculated Bos indicus bulls. Animal Reproduction Science, 148:1-17.
  • Fortes M.R.S., Satake N., Corbet D.H., Corbet N.J., Burns B.M., Moore S.S. and Boe-Hansen G.B. (2014) Sperm protamine deficiency correlates with sperm DNA damage in Bos indicus bulls. Andrology, 2: 370-378.
  • Fordyce G., McGowan M.R., Lisle A., Muller T., Allen J., Duff C., Holroyd R.G., Corbet N.J. and Burns B.M. (2014) Scrotal circumference of Australian beef bulls. Theriogenology, 81: 805-812.
  • Wolcott M.L., Johnston D.J., Barwick S.A., Corbet N.J. and Burrow H.M. (2014) Genetic relationships between steer performance and female reproduction and possible impacts on whole herd productivity in two tropical beef genotypes. Animal Production Science, 54: 85-96.
  • Johnston D.J., Corbet N.J., Barwick S.A., Wolcott M.L. and Holroyd R.G. (2014) Genetic correlations of young bull reproductive traits and heifer puberty traits with female reproductive performance in two tropical beef genotypes in northern Australia. Animal Production Science, 54: 74-84.
  • Wolcott M.L., Johnston D.J., Barwick S.A., Corbet N.J. and Williams P.J. (2014) The genetics of cow growth and body composition at first calving in two tropical beef genotypes. Animal Production Science, 54: 37-49.
  • Johnston D.J., Barwick S.A., Fordyce G., Holroyd R.G., Williams P.J., Corbet N.J. and Grant T. (2014) Genetics of early and lifetime annual reproductive performance in cows of two tropical beef genotypes in northern Australia. Animal Production Science, 54: 1-15.

H Index: 9

Students under supervision:

Don Menzies Photo
Dr Don Menzies - Research Officer

Don attained tertiary qualifications in agriculture science in the mid 1990s and then spent five years working in research projects, mostly within the north Australian beef industry. Don spent the next 15 years working in private enterprise supplying herd management and project management solutions to the northern beef industry, with a particular focus on technology transfer. In late 2013, he returned to study having been awarded a PhD scholarship with CQUniversity. His research focus is addressing reproductive inefficiencies in the northern beef industry by providing autonomous technologies to simplify data collection and drive genetic improvement. He maintains strong ties to rural Australia and is passionate about valuing agriculture as a respected career and a major contributor to the Australian economy.

Current research projects:
  • Precision Livestock Management technologies to improve reproductive efficiency in the northern Australian beef industry - the PhD is focused on using Walk-over-Weighing technology to derive maternal parentage and calving date and using the Calf Alert device to identify date and location of calving.
Industry and funding partners:
  • Meat & Livestock Australia – PhD stipend
  • Telstra – PhD stipend
Publications:

  • Menzies, D., Patison, K. P., Corbet, N. J., & Swain, D. L. (2016). Using temporal associations to determine maternal parentage in extensive beef herds. Animal Production Science, In Press.
  • Menzies, D., Patison, K. P., Corbet, N. J., & Swain, D. L. (2016). Using Walk-over-Weighing technology for parturition date determination in beef cattle. Animal Production Science (under review).
  • Menzies, D., Patison, K. P., Norman, S. T, Corbet, N. J., & Swain, D. L. (2016 in preparation) A preliminary assessment of a radiolocation device to determine location and date of calving in beef cattle. Animal Production Science.
  • Menzies, D., Patison, K. P., Fox, D. R., & Swain, D. L. (2016). A scoping study to assess the precision of an automated radiolocation animal tracking system. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture, 124, 175-183.
  • Rolfe, J., Gregor, S., Menzies, D (2003) Reasons why farmers in Australia adopt the Internet. Electronic Commerce Research and Applications 2 (1), 27-41

H Index: 6


Lauren Williams Photo
Lauren Williams - PhD Candidate

Lauren commenced her research career in 2007. She has completed Honours for the degree of Equine Business Management (2009) and a Master of Animal Science (2010) with the University of Sydney. She is currently completing a PhD with the Precision Livestock Management Research Group at CQUniversity. The focus of Lauren’s research has been to understand links between animal behaviour and their performance. She has used a number of autonomous data collection techniques in her research including GPS, GIS, accelerometers, audio devices and walk-over-weighing. Lauren also works for the Department of Agriculture as a beef extension officer.

Current research projects:
  • PhD Thesis: Development of an automated field based solution to quantify the drinking activities of cattle in northern Australian grazing systems
Industry and funding partners:
  • Australian Postgraduate Award, PhD Candidature
  • Queensland Government Supporting Women in Agriculture Top Up Scholarship, PhD Candidature
  • CSIRO studentship, PhD Candidature
Publications:

  • Williams, L. R., Jackson, E. L., Bishop‐Hurley, G. J., & Swain, D. L. (2016). Drinking frequency effects on the performance of cattle: a systematic review. Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition.
  • Williams, L., Bishop-Hurley, G., Swain, D. (2016) Development of an automated field based solution to quantify the drinking activities of northern Australian cattle grazing systems. Proceedings of the Northern Beef Research Update Conference, Rockhampton, Australia.
  • Williams, L.R., Bush, R.D., Kilgour, R.J., Trotter, M.G., Cronin, G.M. (2013) The effect of temperament on the behaviour and productivity of beef heifers grazed extensively on pasture. Proceedings of the Spatially Enabled Livestock Management Symposium, Camden, Australia,(49).
  • Cronin, G.M., Williams, L.R., van der Smagt, N.E., Bush, R.D., Trotter, M.G. (2011) Does wearing remote monitoring technologies alter livestock behaviour in extensive grazing systems? Proceedings  of the Spatially Enabled Livestock Management Symposium, Surfers Paradise, Australia, (88).
  • Williams, L.R., Bush, R.D., Trotter, M.G., Cronin, G.M. (2010) GNSS monitoring of temperament variations in cattle. Proceedings of the Spatially Enabled Livestock Management Symposium, Armidale, Australia, (3).
  • Williams, L.R., Warren-Smith, A.K. (2010) Conflict responses exhibited by dressage horses during competition. Journal of Veterinary Behaviour: Clinical Applications and Research, 4:215.

Christopher O'Neill
Christopher O'Neill - PhD Candidate

Chris O’Neill has dedicated a career of more than 30 years to researching issues of breeder herd productivity in Australia’s northern beef industry, culminating in a PhD candidature at CQUniversity. Whilst employed at CSIRO Rockhampton and Townsville he was involved in all facets of research, development and extension activities, including: experimental design, conduct and analysis of animal breeding experiments; heterosis from indicine x taurine hybrids, Boran and Tuli crossbreeding evaluation; formation of the Adaptaur a highly tick resistant Hereford-Shorthorn; identifying a line of highly fertile Brahmans (HFL); using telemetry to study cattle social behaviour; and maintaining a meaningful dialogue with beef producers in the crossbreeding, Adaptaur and HFL collaborations. Chris has contributed to more than 30 peer-reviewed scientific publications and in 2007 was awarded the Queensland Churchill Fellowship to study the integration of livestock behaviour into genetic improvement programs via biotelemetry. Invitations to speak at international conferences in South America (Brazil 2010 and Paraguay in 2015) were recognition of his knowledge and commitment to improving livestock productivity in stressful environments. The exposure to global production systems has reinforced his strongly held belief that productivity hinges on selecting the animal that is best adapted to the production system.

Current research projects:
  • PhD Thesis: The social context of mating and maternal investment of beef cattle in northern Australia: using ultra high frequency proximity loggers to measure the contact activity. A rangeland cattle herd of high productivity requires cows to successfully nurture the current generation of progeny whilst conceiving the calves that will result in the next generation. Such a goal is achieved with an optimal mix of maternal and reproductive traits to match the environmental conditions of the rangeland. This thesis is an exposé of that linkage between maternal and reproductive behaviour of lactating cows of Belmont Red Composite (BRC) over 2 breeding seasons, and straightbred Brahman (BB) over one season in a sub-tropical rangeland environment of Belmont Research Station. The study will focus on the following contact behaviours: cow-bull; cow-cow; cow-own calf; and cow-other calves. Ultra high frequency (UHF) proximity loggers will be used to quantify those behaviours. Live weights, body condition scores and ultrasound scans will be used to gauge the relative performance of BB compared to BRC and rebreeding (pregnant) cows compared to non-pregnant cows.
Publications:
  • Frisch, J.E. and O’Neill C.J., 1998. Comparative evaluation of beef cattle breeds of African, European and Indian origins. 2. Resistance to cattle ticks and gastrointestinal nematodes. Animal Science 67: 39-48.
  • O’Neill, C.J. 2007. The need and potential for integrating livestock behaviour and fitness into genetic improvement programs utilising data from radio telemetry. Report to: The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust of Australia. http://www.churchilltrust.com.au/media/fellows/ONEILL_Christopher_2007.pdf
  • O’Neill, C.J., Swain, D.L., and Kadarmideen, H.N. 2010. Evolutionary process of Bos taurus cattle in favourable versus unfavourable environments and its implications for genetic selection. Evolutionary Applications, 3:422-433.
  • Ali, A.A., O’Neill, C.J., Thompson, P.C., and Kadarmideen H. N. 2012. Genetic parameters of infectious keratoconjunctivitis and its relationship with weight and parasite infestations in Australian tropical Bos taurus cattle. Genetics Selection Evolution, 44:22.
  • O’Neill, C.J., Bishop-Hurley, G.J., Williams, P., Reid, D.J., and Swain, D.L. 2014. Using UHF proximity loggers to quantify male-female interactions: A scoping study of estrous activity in cattle. Animal Reproduction Science 151:1-8.
  • O’Neill, C.J. and Swain, D.L. 2015.Improving livestock productivity in stressful rangeland environments. Invited paper: 23rd International Congress of Agricultural Technology Transfer CEA. November, 2015, Asunción, Paraguay.

H Index: 8


Neville DoyleNeville Doyle - PhD Candidate
Current research projects:

Near infrared spectra pattern recognition potential for grain processing in feedlot diet manufacture.

Industry and funding partners:

Bovine Dynamics

Publications:

Doyle, N, Swain, D, Roberts, JJ, Cozzolino, D (2016) The Use of Qualitative Analysis in Food Research and Technology: Considerations and Reflections from an Applied Point of View. Food Analytical Methods 1-6.


Eloise Fogarty
Eloise Fogarty - PhD Candidate

Eloise spent the first half of her life in Sydney, before moving to Singapore where she attended the Australian International School. Upon returning to Australia, she completed a Bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Bioscience (Hons I) at the University of Sydney and was awarded a University Medal. Eloise then worked as a Research and Development Associate with Merial, a leading animal pharmaceutical company. Eloise commenced her PhD with the Precision Livestock Management Research Group at CQUniversity in January 2017. Her project will investigate autonomous sensors for welfare monitoring in sheep.

Current research projects:
  • Investigating autonomous sensors for welfare monitoring
Publications:
  • Fogarty E.S., Swain, D.L., Cronin, G., Trotter, M. “Autonomous on-animal sensors in sheep research: A systematic review”, Computers and Electronics in Agriculture, Volume 150, pp. 245-256.
  • Fogarty E.S., Manning J.K., Trotter M.G., Schneider D.A., Thomson P.C., Bush R.D., Cronin G.M. “GNSS technology and its application for improved reproductive management in extensive sheep systems”, Animal Production Science, Volume 55, no. 10, pp. 1272-1280, 2015.
  • Fogarty E.S., Manning J.K., Trotter M.G., Schneider D.A., Thomson, P.C., Bush R.D., Cronin G.M. “GPS technology and its application for improved reproductive management in extensive sheep systems”, Proceedings of the fourth Australian and New Zealand Spatially Enabled Livestock Management Symposium, 26-27 Sept 2013, Camden NSW, p. 25, 2013.
  • Fogarty E.S., Manning J.K., Trotter M.G., Schneider D.A., Thomson, P.C., Bush R.D., Cronin G.M. “Sheep reproductive behaviour: The adaptation of GNSS technology to detect changes in sheep movement pattern during oestrus.” Proceedings of the 30th Biennial Conference of the Australian Society of Animal Production: ‘Harnessing the Ecology and Physiology of Herbivores’, 8-12 Sept 2014, Canberra NSW, Volume 30, p. 104, 2014.
  • Manning J.K., Fogarty E.S., Trotter M.G., Schneider D.A., Thomson, P.C., Bush R.D., Cronin G.M. “A pilot study into the use of Global Navigation Satellite System technology to quantify the behavioural responses of sheep during simulated dog predation events” Animal Production Science, Volume 54, no. 10, pp. 1676-1681, 2014.
  • Manning J.K., Fogarty E.S., Trotter M.G., Schneider D.A., Thomson, P.C., Bush R.D., Cronin G.M. “Using GPS technology to quantify the behavioural responses of sheep during simulated dog predation events”, Proceedings of the fourth Australian and New Zealand Spatially Enabled Livestock Management Symposium, 26-27 Sept 2013, Camden NSW, pp. 37-38. 2013.
News Articles
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A CQUni agri-tech researcher who is helping school students become 'tech-savvy' agents of change has been recognised among eight of Australia's outstanding female agriculture leaders.

Genetics Research Addresses Beef Performance

CQUniversity researchers are addressing one of the biggest challenges facing the beef industry - increasing uptake of genetic performance recording in extensive beef production systems in Northern Australia.

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