- Cobalt Design
- LX Group
eShepherd is a world-first livestock virtual herding solution that provides remote pasture management, and animal monitoring for improved livestock and land welfare. Developed in Australia for the global market, eShepherd helps farmers manage their animals and land more effectively in the face of climate change. Farmers can create or modify a virtual paddock using a web application on their laptop or smart device. The virtual paddock GPS coordinates are then sent wirelessly to each animal’s neckband via the IoT platform, training livestock through the use of advanced algorithms and stimuli to stay within set virtual paddock boundaries.
Cobalt Design collaborated with Agersens to expertly engineer the enclosure of the solar-powered neckband with morphometric fitment for self-correcting position, ensuring that the solar panels are optimally positioned for solar harvesting. The neckbands and base stations contain high quality electronics with carefully selected components tested for robustness and longevity, manufactured with precision to specified high standards. The units are waterproof, tough and comprised of UV stabilised plastics and fabrics to ensure longevity. To ensure a good fit on all breeds of livestock, Cobalt conducted unique research to generate bovine morphometry; making eShepherd ergonomic and light weight for “end user” comfort.
eShepherd improves farm productivity and OH&S, and increases welfare of livestock, wildlife and the environment. The virtual herding process eliminates the need for mustering aids (such as aircraft, horses, dogs, ATVs etc.) and traditional barbed or electric fences which have been associated with injury/death to workers and animals. Producers can instead muster stock steadily and remotely, reducing animal weight-loss and improving meat quality. Removing traditional fences also improves the movement of wildlife – a critical contributor to a healthy ecosystem. It can restrict livestock access to waterways, reducing bank erosion and pollution in the riparian zone and seasonal nesting grounds.
Traditional fencing can require significant investment and pose potential hazards. Permanent fences may also be non-viable across rough terrain or remote wilderness areas. eShepherd makes it possible to remotely manage livestock in difficult terrain. The system enables sustainable land management and regenerative agriculture by providing an efficient method to change grazing patterns. This ensures pastures are used effectively and cattle are kept out of sensitive riparian zones. Farmers can instantly update virtual paddocks and muster livestock from any location, which can be particularly critical in reducing livestock mortality rates in event of a natural disaster.
eShepherd is an IoT driven platform comprising a GPS-enabled neckband and cloud-based application which is used to fence, move and monitor livestock by detecting and responding to animal behaviour. eShepherd has a patented integrated training program for livestock that uses an audio rather than a visual cue to indicate the location of the virtual paddock boundary. The neckbands exchange data with customised LX Smart Elements Base Stations via a low power LoRa network. The Base Station then sends this data to the cloud via a 3G/4G cellular or satellite connection, where it is utilised by the custom API.
Agersens has actively collaborated with the RSPCA, CSIRO and various animal ethics committees to set the highest animal welfare standards for eShepherd. When an animal approaches the fence, the neckband emits an audio cue. If the animal continues towards the virtual paddock boundary, the neckband delivers a harmless yet aversive pulse. Livestock quickly learn that they need to stop or turn aside when they hear the sound. If the animal panics, the system waits for them to calm and then guides them back within the virtual paddock. The system aims to provide the most minimal impact to livestock.