Calf losses cost the Australian beef industry hundreds of millions of dollars a year, but research into the problem has typically been hampered by an inability to monitor when and where calving has occurred.
A Meat and Livestock Australia funded-project is hoping to find a solution by developing a remote calving alert device, that should make it easier to monitor pregnant heifers and lower calf losses.
The first phase the project, completed last year, identified three prototype devices.
Run by a team at Charles Sturt University in NSW, the second phase of the project will build and evaluate the three prototype devices before selecting the best device that can be taken into field trials.
The prototypes use a Taggle wireless chip to collate and transmit data around physiological and behavioural changes in the pregnant heifers.
MLA Northern Beef Project Manager, Mick Quirk, said the successful development of an effective device could help future research into perinatal calf losses.
"Calf losses occur for a whole range of reasons – from poor mothering, dystocia, exposure, nutritional deficiencies and diseases. Dystocia alone has been estimated to cost the industry more than $200 million per year,” he said.
“Research on this topic under paddock conditions has been hampered by an inability to monitor when and where calving has occurred, so a device like this will be vital to getting a handle on the most important causes of calf loss.”
- To view the full report from the first stage of the trial on the MLA website, click here