Media Release

Newsroom Releases 2013 June Women may take the reins in livestock management

18/06/2013
Women may take the reins in livestock management
A JCU student is studying how women are playing a critical role in developing technological innovations in managing livestock.

Women may take the reins in livestock management

A James Cook University student is studying how women are playing a critical role in developing technological innovations in managing livestock.

Rachel Hay, an honours student in business, said her research aimed to establish how women view and make decisions with regard to remote livestock management technology.

Ms Hay said remote livestock management used remote cameras, weather stations, satellite imagery, GPS collars, electronic ear tags, and ‘walk-over’ scales to monitor cattle, pastures and bore levels from the homestead.

“Large-scale cattle producers in northern Australia are considering aspects of beef cattle management using remote livestock farming, or RLF, technologies to optimise efficiencies,” she said.

“Adopting RLF technology may save time and labour costs, as graziers will no longer have to drive for many hours to check trough water levels at distant bores, for example.”

Ms Hay said the technology could also be beneficial to animal welfare.

“Graziers can track sudden weight loss through the use of walk-over scales, alerting the grazier to weight loss problems instantly rather than having to drive and search for the cattle and guess if their weight has changed.

“It can also improve sustainable and environmental farming practices by providing better management of pastures through the use of remote weather stations and cameras.

“Using the new technology requires the grazier to monitor the technology from the station homestead, potentially keeping the grazier from performing daily outside operations.”

Ms Hay said current research indicated a grazier, traditionally male, may not want to forego paddock and stock work and farm maintenance to complete computer-based technology operation from within the homestead.

“As such, it anticipates that RLF technology systems operation may fall to the farming women. The aims of this research are to establish how farming women view and make decisions with regard to RLF technology.”

Ms Hay said the research would also investigate how the technology affects the farming business, personal career paths and family aspirations.

“The expected outcomes of the research will help to identify gaps in training and information sharing, and recognise the importance of the role of women in decision making in farming practices, increasing self worth and importance.”

Ms Hay said RLF was a spin-off from a project from her supervisor, Professor Philip Pearce, titled the Digital Homestead.

The Digital Homestead project involved collecting property data on animals, pasture and weather by remote technologies and developing a product where the information collected can be viewed at the Digital Homestead on one simple and user-friendly computer screen, known as the dashboard.

First published June 18, 2013

JCU Media contact: Caroline Kaurila (07) 4781 4586