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21st century flock protection from wild dogs
The Electronic Shepherd is a listening device with advanced computer software to identify the sound of wild dogs or a stock attack and in turn send an alert to the woolgrower’s mobile phone or via long range radio link, giving the woolgrower an opportunity to disrupt and intercept dog attacks.
Lecturer in computational science at the University of New England in Armidale, Dr Greg Falzon, has been presented with a Science and Innovation Award for Young People in Agriculture.
The research will be undertaken by 34 year old Dr Greg Falzon, a lecturer in computational science at the University of New England in Armidale, who was presented with a Science and Innovation Award for Young People in Agriculture in Canberra this week.
Dr Falzon says he has witnessed first-hand the devastation that wild dog attacks can have on stock when he lived on his family’s property in the Mid North Coast region of NSW.
"If sheep producers could reliably detect dog attacks as they are occurring or just prior to an attack, at any hour and at even the most distant locations of their property, then there could be an opportunity to thwart a dog attack," Dr Falzon added. "Early warning technology could allow woolgrowers and sheep producers to take the initiative back from the dogs and allow farmers to protect their stock."
The Electronic Shepherd system will include a listening station, placed in the paddock close to the flock, continually listening to the surrounding environment and monitoring the flock as it goes about its daily activities.
"Sophisticated real-time embedded signal processing software and algorithms would automatically detect the presence of predators, such as a dog bark, or an attack on the flock indicated by extensive bleating or sheep running."
Dr Falzon has previously developed, in collaboration with the Invasive Animals CRC, the ’Wild Dog Alert’ system, which is based on motion-activated camera technology.
The Electronic Shepherd project will seek to develop proof-of-concept technology. A key objective of the development will be to determine the effective range of the Electronic Shepherd and optimal configurations for whole flock monitoring under realistic conditions encountered on a sheep property. The accuracy of system, false alert rate and variables such as the impact of different weather conditions will be monitored and addressed.
A cost-benefit analysis of AWI’s investment into wild dog control from 2010 to 2013 conducted by the BDA Group showed an $8.60 return for every dollar invested. The full report can be found at wool.com
See what AWI is doing to help producers protect their flocks from wild dogs and apply for funding for control projects at www.wool.com/wilddogs