GPS trackers placed on cattle to inform investment decisions

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The Northern Territory (NT) Government’s Paddock Power collaborative project has taken another step forward with GPS tracking collars placed on 160 cattle to gather evidence which will better inform future investment decisions.

The Paddock Power project is a collaborative initiative between Meat and Livestock Australia, the Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade (DITT) and NT beef producers.

The project aims to increase producer confidence to invest in paddock development by providing strong evidence to support investment decisions for developing new infrastructure, reduce rates of calf loss and increase the kilograms of beef produced.

With the help of station staff at Rocklands Station in the Barkly Tableland, DITT staff put GPS tracking collars on 140 pregnant breeders and 20 steers to investigate:

  • how cattle use paddocks of different size and watered area
  • how far cattle are walking, with and without calves
  • how far from water calves are being born
  • how paddock usage patterns change through the year
  • whether weaning rates, mortality rates and live weight gain are influenced by the above factors.

This information is invaluable since the distances that cattle walk to find feed and water has direct impacts on live weight gain, body condition and reproductive performance.

The research will assist with the development of a calculator tool so producers and investors can easily work out the return on investment and payback period of development options on the basis of cost base, land types and productivity.

Across a range of projects, DITT currently has the largest deployment of GPS tracking technology deployed to cattle in northern Australia. This has been made possible through rapid advances in technology and much lower costs that has limited use of this technology in the past.

The research is expected to be completed by February 2023.

Find out more by joining the Paddock Power Facebook group.

Collared cows

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