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Cattle mustering set to go hi-tech

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December 19 2012, 3:00PM

Cattle mustering and management in the Australian outback is set to go hi-tech.

An Australian company is close to commercialising the world's first fully automated system to remotely muster and manage herds.

Alice Springs-based Precision Pastoral Ltd has developed the remote livestock management system (RLMS), which can save cattle producers around $68 a head in annual cattle operating costs.

The system gives graziers and pastoralists the same precision available to dairy and beef farmers on much smaller properties - enabling them to muster, weigh, monitor, draft and hold pastoral cattle for market over large distances.

RLMS uses a combination of hardware and software to identify, weigh and draft individual animals when they come in for a drink of water, Precision Pastoral chief executive Tim Driver said.

"Cattle are trained to present themselves to the RLMS for recording, then return themselves to the paddock - unless they are ready for market, in which case a drafting gate sends them to a holding paddock to await collection by the stock transporter," he said.

"It uses solar power to run radio-frequency identification readers, which recognise the unique electronic tag in each animal's ear when it passes a gate.

"The animal is then automatically weighed and drafted.

"The whole process is overseen by sophisticated software that has been trialled in real-life conditions on Australian cattle stations over the past three years."

Prototype RLMS units are undergoing field trials with producers throughout remote Australia.

So far the system has been found to be 99 per cent accurate in drafting cattle and 97 per cent accurate in recording cattle weights.