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 Sensor Networks for Rangeland Animals

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Date posted: 04/02/2017

On vast rangeland, livestock is difficult and expensive to manage. But Derek Bailey, professor in the New Mexico State University Department of Animal and Range Sciences, is working to find ways to help such ranchers better manage their livestock and improve animal welfare.

His efforts include collaborating with researchers in Australia, where the rangeland is similar to that in New Mexico and other western states. Bailey will further his research at Central Queensland University in Rockhampton with the help of the prestigious Fulbright Senior Scholarship he was recently awarded.

“On rangelands in New Mexico, in the western United States and in most of Australia, ranchers have extensive pastures on which they can’t see the livestock all the time,” Bailey said. “The cows have to free roam out in the range, so you can’t watch them; it’s not like a dairy where you see the cows every day. Because of that, you can’t always tell if the animals get sick or have trouble with parturition.”

His Fulbright to Australia from early February to late June will allow him to work with Mark Trotter, associate professor of precision agriculture at Central Queensland University, and others to identify methods to track cattle and sheep on rangeland. Specifically, Bailey will be learning in more detail about a type of GPS tracking used to identify animal behaviors and to determine whether an animal needs assistance.

“One of the cool things about going to Australia is that they’re very close to having real-time or near real-time tracking of livestock,” Bailey said. “We’re trying to use technology to see if we can identify behaviors that would be indicative of welfare issues. We’re hoping to be able to see that, with their movement data from GPS tracking and perhaps other sensors.”

The GPS device would be affixed to a collar that would send a signal to a nearby tower, potentially up to 10 miles away from the animal. That data would be collected and transferred to the ranch headquarters. Ideally, the information would be sent via the internet to a smartphone application.

See the full Story via external site: newscenter.nmsu.edu

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