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Livestock losses via theft and accidental deaths is one of the most critical aspects that affect farming success. These kinds of losses affect the production success of a farmer.
There are several technological initiatives that are introduced to reduce the loss of livestock.
Here’s a practical guide to several trending methods used to monitor, inspect and control or reduce stock losses.
Commonly known approaches in mitigating stock theft are: counting livestock regularly, keeping a controlled livestock register with some help from a Farm Management app, marking your livestock, regular fence maintenance etc.
1. Using GPS tracking devices to reduce livestock losses
GPS telemetry is the act of performing measurements of an animal at a distance, acquiring GPS information of the animal at a remote location and then transmitting that information to a central or host location.
GPS telemetry technology gathers information that allows the farmer to monitor and map the details of animal movement, animal positions provide the elemental unit of movement path and where individuals interact with the ecosystems around them.
Acquiring such crucial information can help farmers and scientists in their search for key concepts of animal ecology, rangeland resource use, home range, and dispersal and population dynamics.
Therefore this application of GPS telemetry tracking results in much improved accuracy and reliability, as opposed to direct observation method that has proven to require considerable labour, the presence of an observer can modify animal behavior at any stage, and being only applicable during daylight period.
2. Using drones to reduce livestock losses
Drones are technological tools that can be used to track footprints and collect information about animals from the air. Drones capture high resolution images of animals targeted,and their location. A farmer can use this tool to monitor and track livestock on the farm,this assists greatly in preventing stock theft.
A digital image of an animal footprint is captured using a standard camera, cellphone, etc an transmitted to a software (raw data transformation). The software extracts key data (distances, angles and areas) from the footprint to characterize the individual that made it.
Advanced tools can even determine, with a high degree of accuracy, which species, individual, sex or age-class left that print.
3. Using Camera Traps to control animal population
Camera traps are technological devices that are widely used to monitor the presence of animals and record their behavior, they improve and enhance livestock production through monitoring animals.
There are several types of camera traps, however the modern one is simply a digital camera connected to an infrared sensor which can detect warm objects such as animals that are moving. When an animal moves past the sensor it causes the camera to capture, recording an image or video to the memory card for later retrieval.
These devices can be left in the field to continuously watch an area of habitat for weeks or even months, recording the rarest events which occur in nature. This can include everything from a big cat patrolling its territory, to livestock predators. Camera traps collect data records of animals, providing data on exactly where species are, what they are doing, and how large their populations are.
With a high rise of innovations, networked camera traps have been developed, capable of sending images over phone or satellite networks in near real-time. Camera traps are also being deployed to understand how humans and livestock interact, this can assist in preventing theft.
If a farmer wants to observe habits of cattle, he will need to mount and set cameras along paths, water holes, wallows, rubbing posts, and anywhere else that animals travel or spend time.
For maximum detections, mount camera traps just below the target animals’ shoulder height, aimed level with the surface. To conduct a horizontal observation, a small spirit level can be used to ensure a perfect vertical setup. To maintain sensitivity and a good detection range, the camera traps should not be mounted more than 40 cm above the targeted animal’s shoulder height, since it prevents the lens windows and sensors of cameras from being splashed with dirt by the heavy rainfall that arises, and their angle should not be more than 5° towards the ground.
These cameras setting procedures will increase the quantity and quality of data that will be acquired from camera traps.
4. Using animal reflectors to keep animals safe
Reflective collar tags is an innovative and new approach to increase the visibility of stray animals to motorists at night. The designing of the collars was influenced by the increased number of accidents on the highways caused by stray animals and the subsequent loss of livestock leading to a depletion of the national herd.
The reflective collar is an adjustable belt fitted around the neck of the animal. Reflectors are user friendly, cheap and assist in saving both human and animal.
5. SNAP Animal app for cattle identification
Snap Animal app is a tool designed by Farm4Trade. It allows you to lookup animal records with AI face ID. Farmers can create a visual catalog of livestock and manage image and video files of individual animals, which magically synchronises with the Farm management app animal records.
It is an Artificial Intelligence biometric recognition technology that allows the identification and re-identification of animals within a collection: this tool promotes greater protection of animal welfare and health.
The advantages of this tool:
- It’s user friendly and very cost effective (actually, it’s free)
- It assist in reducing and preventing stock theft
- It ensures the reunion with the owners in case of stock theft
- It assists in mistaken animal identity
- It works with and supports the current identification systems
How Snap Animal Works
Snap Animal works together with our Farm Management app, a tool that ensures the unique identification of each animal, and keeps track of all their individual information related to genealogy, health status and productive situation, a complete tool that covers all essential aspects of livestock farming; from health and safety to real-time monitoring and management of individual cattle.
With all the recorded information of the animals (including pictures), the Snap Animal app then uses that opportunity to identify and differentiate animals just scanning the animal’s face with your smartphone’s or tablet’s camera.
This app allows you collecting and identifying animals using digital visual catalogues.
Rutter, S., Beresford, N., & Roberts, G. (1997). Use of GPS to identify the grazing areas of hill sheep. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture. 17:177–188.
Zimmermann, B. (2013). How does animal monitoring with GPS tags contribute to ecology and conservation?. Special issue on applied ecology.
Apps, P. J., & McNutt, J. W. (2018). How camera traps work and how to work them. African journal of ecology, 56(4), 702-709.