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OSU testing eShepherd in beef and dairy industries

Agersens and The Ohio State University have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that paves the way for the two organizations to implement research trials to determine the efficacy and economics of the eShepherd system for local conditions.

eShepherd is a smart collar system for livestock, enabling cattle producers to create “virtual fences” and use their smart device to remotely fence, move and monitor their livestock around the clock from anywhere in the world.

Ian Reilly, CEO of Australia-based Agersens, said the team at The Ohio State University had the expertise and knowledge the company needed to better understand local cattle and dairy markets and determine how virtual fencing technology can help Ohio farmers get the most out of their land and livestock.

“eShepherd is set to revolutionize livestock management by unlocking value from the digital transformation of the American beef and dairy industries and will make farming more efficient, more manageable and less labor intensive,” Reilly said. “Farmers in Ohio understand that improved grazing control creates more productive, profitable properties and are eager to adopt technologies that enable controlled grazing without the associated time constraints and labor costs.”

This latest MoU comes on the heels of similar Memorandums struck with the University of Idaho and Kansas State University last year, as well as an extended collaboration agreement with the CSIRO formalized last November.

Land-Grant Universities in the United States have a unique role in providing farm extension services through their agricultural education mission for agricultural producers. In contrast, such services are typically offered by Australian state government agriculture departments and Research and Development Corporations.

“Ohio State will be seeking to add eShepherd to their kit of extension service technologies that can help farmers increase their efficiency and maximize productivity,” Reilly said.

Dr. John Foltz, Chair of the Department of Animal Sciences at Ohio State, recognizes the technological and economic opportunities that eShepherd brings to Departmental research faculty and livestock producers in Ohio.

“The virtual fence is an exciting technology, which we hope to utilize in numerous research projects to understand its potential as a livestock management tool,” Foltz said. “It appears to have some very unique capabilities and also generates large amounts of precision livestock data, which will be valuable to our research scientists.”

The transformative eShepherd technology uses a GPS-enabled, solar-powered smart collar containing a CSIRO-developed algorithm and an audio cue to train cattle to stay within their prescribed virtual boundary.

The ability of the GPS-enabled collars to monitor and move the herd in real-time using mobile technology appealed to Animal Sciences Associate Chair, Anthony Parker.

“The position of the cattle can be observed in real-time from the office on a tablet or computer.  The technology has many practical applications for cattle producers in Ohio from avoiding riparian, protected or overgrazed areas to moving cattle over a landscape to ensure an even grazing pressure,” Parker said. “The e-Shepherd technology fits within existing research being undertaken at The Jackson Agricultural Research Station and the Eastern Agricultural Research Station with global positioning systems to better understand cattle behavior.”

The eShepherd virtual fencing technology was patented by the CSIRO and licensed exclusively to Agersens worldwide. The business has already received orders for thousands of eShepherd collars in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada and the UK.

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