Automated scales and remote cameras are being used to continuously monitor and assess the performance of cattle involved in a Producer Demonstration Site in north western Queensland.
Producers involved in the Richmond Beef Challenge are using an automated weigh bridge, remote cameras, a telemetry system and NLIS data to monitor the growth rates of cattle involved in the trial.
The challenge began in July 2011, and involves 45 head of cattle (0–2 tooth, 300–400kg) from nine local producers. It builds on the success of the neighbouring Flinders Beef Challenge.
Cattle are run together in one paddock and fed the same supplements in order to determine which animals put on the most weight under local conditions.
The trial has an automated walk over weigh-bridge that measures cattle every time the animal uses a spear trap to exit the water yard.
This weight data is checked against their NLIS tag and sent to a website via 3G mobile coverage.
The website has feeds from two remote cameras set up in the paddock, one to monitor cattle passing over the weigh-bridge and the other to monitor pasture condition – as well as cattle weights and reporting. It can be viewed at www.usee.com
MLA Manager Northern Australia, Wayne Hall, said that innovative approaches to monitoring liveweights can give cattle producers an edge for key management decisions.
“Walk-over weighing technology can help identify management trigger points for when to sell, when to start dry season supplementation if needed, and gauge liveweight response to a feeding program,” he said.
“Similarly, trials such as this provide an opportunity to assess whether remote cameras are useful in assessing the frequency of water runs, providing early water shortage alerts, reduce overhead costs and monitoring pasture.”
Already, the technology has proved useful – with weights collected manually in the crush being consistent with the automatic weigh-bridge data. The telemetry system has also provided insights into the drinking habits and movements of cattle between paddocks.
The weigh-bridge data also helped the group to more accurately time the introduction of dry licks for when their spring weight gain plateaued.
Source: Meat and LIvestock Australia