A team at Central Queensland University in Australia has developed a livestock monitoring system that uses GPS to record animal movements.
Professor Mark Trotter, project leader associate, said: “Stock theft can range from small incursions, paring off a handful of animals from larger groups, all the way through to major criminal operations in which entire herds are mustered into portable yards and shipped out in semi‐trailers.
“In all cases the opportunity to steal is a result of the inability of the farmer to constantly monitor the location and behaviour of their livestock.”
Working with AgForce, which represents rural producers, the university hopes that the new system will improve upon the National Livestock Identification System, Australia’s current system for the identification and traceability of cattle, sheep and goats.
“One of the limitations of the National Livestock Identification System is that the location of an animal is only sporadically known when the tags are checked when livestock are bought, sold or moved along the production chain – animal data cannot be accessed remotely or in real‐time,” said Trotter. “We have designed a generic animal sensing platform with GPS location to monitor animal movement that we will test in stock theft simulations at AgForce’s Belmont Research Station.”
As part of the program, the university will be hosting a workshop with producers directly affected by stock theft to gain insights into the types of behaviour, both criminal and animal, that could be recorded during stock theft, as well as feedback on how on‐animal data could be best be relayed to these end‐users in a meaningful manner.
According to the 2001‐2002 National Farm Crime Survey, conducted by the Australian Institute of Criminology, livestock theft was the most commonly reported rural crime affecting 6% of farms, with 186,777 animals stolen at an estimated annual cost of AU$16 million (m). The report also revealed that most incidents (65%) went unreported and the true cost was more likely to be closer to AU$67m a year.