Resource use and proximity technology in extensive systems - getting useful information on livestock at lower costs?

A Waterhouse*, A McLaren, A Walker, JP Holland, C Morgan-Davies, S. Nyamuryekung, A. Cox, S.A. Utsumi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

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Comprehensive livestock tracking and behavioral characterization in extensive systems is technically challenging and expensive. Some technologies and data strategies based around proximity information may be more affordable. This paper brings together experiences from two major PLF projects involving cattle in extensive U.S. rangelands and sheep in extensive UK mountains and considers proximity technology for two resources, water in dry rangelands, and supplementary feed in pregnancy, respectively. Opportunities to characterize useful livestock variables include presence/absence, diurnal patterns, use of resources and changing use patterns. Results covering supplementary feed, used fixed Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) readers arrayed around feeding points, 48 Blackface and 50 Lleyn ewes on 33ha of grazing that wore small (c14 g) BLE beacons. Beacons on ewes communicated identity and RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indicator) via receiving readers, pushing data in near-real time via LPWAN to an ArCGIS Online database. Differences in proximity at feeding areas were found for breed and age and patterns of activity over 24-hour periods, supporting the view that BLE technology covering only proportions of grazing areas could be useful for management purposes. For water access in arid rangelands, 11 cows in a 480ha paddock wore NoFence virtual fencing collars with GNSS real-time tracking using cellphone communications. Daily patterns of proximity to the only water source derived from GNSS data support the view that useful information could be provided by BLE proximity systems at lower cost than GNSS collars. Proximity approaches alone provides less information than GNSS systems.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPrint publication - May 2023
EventUS Precision Livestock Farming 2023 - Knoxville, United States
Duration: 21 May 202324 May 2023


ConferenceUS Precision Livestock Farming 2023
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


  • proximity
  • bluetooth
  • GNSS
  • extensive systems
  • cost/benefit


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