Rangelands NRM Blog, News & Resources

Ear tags track cattle in real time

[October 2014]

The first phase of the Rangelands Self-Shepherding (RSS) trial at De Grey Station will include monitoring of the current location of cows using a newly establish ‘Taggle’ system.

This trial is in partnership with a Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA)-Rangelands NRM project where forty cattle on De Grey station, near Port Hedland, are fitted with positioning-system ear tags as part of the Royalties-for-Regions Carbon Farming project.

The positioning system will be used in conjunction with automated Walk-over-Weighing, self-shepherding and physical vegetation and carbon measurement to inform and calibrate satellite imagery which in turn will provide an estimation of available food and also changes in carbon.

Project Manager at DAFWA Henry Brockman said the ear tags have small radio transmitters that will be picked up by three radio antennas on the site; allowing cattle to be tracked in real time at low cost compared to satellite collars.

“Data will be combined, analysed and plotted on a weekly/fortnightly basis, resulting in an indication of grazing patterns,” he said.

Patch grazing (cattle concentrating on some areas of palatable vegetation and under-utilising other areas) can be seen from the grazing patterns, and timely management actions can then be applied to draw cattle away from these patches before it is overgrazed.

In the next few weeks, the Rangelands Self Shepherding work will commence with John, Mark and Narelle Bettini at De Grey Station, who have been planning to manage livestock grazing patterns within a 45,000-hectare paddock.

The intention is to generate movement of cattle from the currently well-used area to an under-utilised area of Pindan.

“We want to get better control of the utilisation of areas within the paddock, but we’d prefer to avoid fencing the paddock into three areas based on land system,” said Mark.

If we can control grazing distribution without internal fences, it keeps our options open for how we use the paddock in the future.

1 – Cattle with a Taggle tag on De Grey Station (©DRevell)
2 – A Taggle tower, one of three positioned at De Grey Station, with John Bettini in the foreground (©DRevell)