Producers sought for stock theft prevention trials

Presented by

Dr Mark Trotter Dr Mark Trotter Dr Mark Trotter

Livestock producers are being urged to help put an end to stock theft by helping Central Queensland University (CQUniversity) test new GPS-based sensor technology.

The research project – a collaborative effort between CQUniversity and Queensland rural advocacy organisation AgForce – aims to develop a new livestock monitoring system which can be used by landholders and law enforcement agencies to remotely monitor animals.

Through 2001 and 2002, the Australian Institute of Criminology conducted a National Farm Crime Survey which found that livestock theft was the most commonly reported rural crime, with 6 per cent of farms and 186,777 animals affected, at an estimated annual cost of $16 million.

CQUniversity now estimates the true cost is most likely closer to $67 million a year, as most incidences of stock theft (thought to be 65 per cent) go unreported.

Project leader Dr Mark Trotter says the cause of the problem is that farmers are unable to constantly watch all of their stock.

"Stock theft can range from small incursions paring off a handful of animals from larger groups, all the way through to major criminal operations in which entire herds are mustered into portable yards and shipped out in semi‐trailers," Trotter says.

"In all cases the opportunity to steal is a result of the inability of the farmer to constantly monitor the location and behaviour of their livestock."

CQUniversity says Trotter will be collaborating with Professor Steve Moore from CQUniversity’s School of Engineering and Technology in adapting sensors for use on livestock, and with Dr Stuart Charters of New Zealand’s Lincoln University, who is an expert in data management and visualization.

"One of the limitations of the National Livestock Identification System is that the location of an animal is only sporadically known when the tags are checked when livestock are bought, sold or moved along the production chain – animal data cannot be accessed remotely or in real‐time," Trotter says.

"We have designed a generic animal sensing platform with GPS location to monitor animal movement that we will test in stock theft simulations at AgForce’s Belmont Research Station."

Initially, CQUniversity aims to conduct workshops with farmers who have been affected by theft to gain insights into the types of animal and criminal behaviours can be recorded during theft events.

To find out more about the research trials, contact Dr Mark Trotter by email.

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