CQ Uni research dialling up fertility

Beef Central, 20/03/2014

It won't be long before love affairs between young cows and bulls will be revealed via a phone network.

When the cow gives birth, its sudden weight loss will also be transmitted thanks to walk-over-weighing (WoW) technology.

And the same WoW technology will indicate maternal parentage as a cow and calf are likely to walk to water together.

CQUniversity PhD researcher Don Menzies explains that the northern beef industry has previously been focused on improving genetics for better animal growth.

However, technology is now available to improve the genetics responsible for fertility and reproductive efficiency.

Thanks to $75,000 in support by Telstra, Mr Menzies will evaluate the viability of Taggle ear tags and walk-over-weighing to select the best genetics for the reproductive success of the Northern Australia beef herd.

With on-farm radio antenna grids able to cover up to 15,000 hectares, cattle wearing Taggle ear tags can be monitored and the onset of puberty can be inferred when heifers mingle with teaser steers.

Early puberty genetics allow more calves in the cow's lifetime and Telstra Next G modems will enable this puberty evidence to be collected.

Following each pregnancy and birth, regular walk-over-weighing provides the related data on reproductive success and maternal parentage.

Mr Menzies has almost two decades of experience working in the northern beef industry and he will be supervised by cattle telemetry and behaviour specialists Professor Dave Swain and Dr Kym Patison.

Professor Swain says CQUniversity is hoping to combine emerging wireless sensor network technology with animal behaviour research to boost the reproductive efficiency of northern Australia's beef cattle production systems.

"The challenge for cattle producers is to be able to measure data that can be used improve cattle reproductive performance," Dr Swain says. "This PhD project will address a significant industry problem."

Telstra's Queensland General Manager Jason Law says Telstra and CQUniversity both have a commitment to excellence and the competitive stance of Australia in a global market.

"CQUniversity demonstrates this through its dedication to the international student and research sector; Telstra through its commitment to the 'Clever Australians' program, where we don't just sponsor people but companies and their success," Mr Law says.

"Telstra and CQUniversity both have a high commitment to research and an innovative future, both because it is needed but also because it is imperative to the commercial viability of both organisations.

"We are delighted that Telstra is in a position to demonstrate our alignment in this area by partnering with CQUniversity to fund this key research of PhD researcher Don Menzies, focused on improving genetics for better reproductive efficiency."

CQUniversity spokesperson Suzi Blair says Telstra has selected the University as a partner because it understands the enormous impact of research focused on specific regional problems, challenges and opportunities.

"Telstra is being visionary in backing our region through the provision of this scholarship, as research is a key to our future prosperity in CQ," Ms Blair said.

"The establishment of the Telstra Research Scholarship represents a significant investment in the potential of the CQ region. It is great to see a major corporate backing our region in this way and providing financial support for the pursuit of new knowledge."

Source: Central Queensland University


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