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Wireless sensor networks for beef and dairy herd management

Kwong, K.H. and Goh, H. and Michie, C. and Andonovic, I. and Stephen, B. and Mottram, T. and Ross, D. (2008) Wireless sensor networks for beef and dairy herd management. In: Annual International Meeting of the American Association of Agriculture and Biological Engineers, 2008-06-29 - 2008-07-02. (Unpublished)

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This paper reports on the application of wireless sensor technology to cattle monitoring. By monitoring and understanding cattle's individual and herd behaviour, farmers can potentially identify the onset of illness, lameness or other conditions which might benefit from early intervention. Low cost sensor network platforms show considerable potential in this context but are faced with a number of significant technical challenges before they are widely and routinely adopted. This paper focuses on challenges that relate specifically to the backhaul of data from cattle mounted sensory devices including data protocols, power consumption, mobility, operational range, data transmission volumes and herd size. The optimization of a wireless communications platform based around the IEEE 802.15.4 standard protocol from the perspective of operational battery lifetime has been analysed as a function of daily download volume and herd size. Boundary conditions are presented according to battery life expectancy. Operational issues such as the length of time grazing animals spend within range of base stations are also reported.