CQUniversity research fellow Dr Kym Patison has won the prestigious CSIRO Health and Biosecurity award for her work in developing on-farm animal welfare monitoring systems.
Dr Patison was presented with the award, and a research grant worth almost $20,000, by Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce at the recent Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
The funding will assist in progressing her research which uses electronic proximity sensors to assess the health of cattle herds.
Dr Patison said that, in the future, these sensors could provide farmers with vital information on the health and welfare of their herd in real time, via digital farm management platforms.
“Cattle have quite set social structures, they have regular contact patterns that they make with members in the group and they’ll contact some more than others depending on the relationship that they have with them,” Dr Patison said.
"When two animals come together, the loggers record when and how long they interact for and can be used to alert stock managers to any unusual changes in behavioural patterns.
“Ultimately, we would like farmers to be able to use information from cattle sensors to detect animal health issues, such as a sick animal, or problems in their environment, such as the presence of a wild dog or an empty trough.”
Dr Patison said she was inspired to undertake the research after moving to Rockhampton from a background in dairy farming in Victoria.
“On a dairy farm, you get to know individual cows and because you are in daily contact with them it is much easier to know when something’s wrong,” she said.
“Technology is a way of enabling farmers running extensive beef cattle production systems to have a similar relationship with their stock and improve the way animal welfare is monitored.”
CQUniversity has been developing a web-based app, Data Muster, to enable producers to monitor their stock based on information gathered from sensors on animals, such as proximity loggers, or in the paddock, such as walk-over-weigh stations.
Dr Patison was one of 11 young scientists and researchers to receive awards through the 2017 Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. CLICK HERE for more information about the award.