Farm Table says:
What is the problem?
Precision livestock management technologies (PLMTs) provide opportunities to increase the efficiency of production in extensive beef production systems. While these technologies have the potential to improve profits, there is a lack of knowledge on how this may be achieved.
What did the research involve?
This project surveyed five case study properties located across northern Australia to explore how five emerging technologies might provide an economic benefit.
The technologies included:
- walk-over-weighing and auto-drafting
- coarse-resolution location cattle tracking
- fine-location cattle behaviour and tracking
- and automated pasture assessment
This project used an economic modelling approach to understand how emerging precision livestock management technologies might enhance the profitability of northern beef production systems.
What were the key findings?
All technologies were estimated to provide some benefits but not all technologies did so on all properties. The estimated benefit-cost ratio suggest that the cost of implementing technologies such as coarse-resolution location devices outweighs the benefits from either increased production or reduced operating costs.
The results of the in-depth interviews that were used to identify the benefits suggested that perceived benefits were linked to the focus of the manager and the direction of the business.
Not all technologies were likely to be economically viable on all case study properties.
The project team and managers found it most difficult to identify benefits for the e-Preg technology.
The coarse-location devices showed benefits for reducing the cost of helicopter mustering and to improve paddock clean outs.
All of the producers felt there should be some benefits from automated pasture assessment, especially for tactical pasture management decisions (i.e. stocking rates).
A number of potential benefits were identified using behavioural information derived from the fine-resolution location monitoring devices.
The analysis of various PLM technologies across a range of properties provided an opportunity to assess a range of potential benefits. Broadly speaking the benefits can be divided between opportunities to increase production and opportunities to save costs.