High-tech Ear Tags Tracking Aussie Live Export Cattle

AUSTRALIA - Technology monitoring Australian livestock in Vietnamese feedlots and abattoirs is being expanded in Australia so stock can be traced from conception to consumption.
calendar icon 7 July 2017
clock icon 4 minute read

Jakarta-based company, Global Compliance, currently monitors Australian cattle 24-hours a day using closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras which interact with electronic ear tags so individual animals can be identified.

ABC News reports that the system was independently developed to comply with the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS), to ensure exporters could trace stock through the supply chain and minimise leakage of animals outside of ESCAS approved facilities.

In the last 12 months, seven exporters have voluntarily implemented the technology, which CEO of Global Compliance, Brian Scott said has grown beyond a traceability tool.

He said the technology was now being implemented in Australia so the entire supply chain could be monitored.

"Our technology has moved into the next phase where it can be implemented by producers to follow their cattle throughout the entire supply chain, we call it from conception to consumption," he said.

"It gives us control over what the cattle are actually doing, so the producer can know where their stock are, if their stock are healthy, what needs to be done, you are being proactive rather than being reactive."

An export holding depot near Darwin has recently adopted the technology, making it the first facility in Australia .

"This allows us to visually identify and see cattle moving throughout the depot, getting ready for export to other countries," Mr Scott said.

The tag then follows the animal through the supply chain, all the way through depots and onto a truck to go to the ship to be exported overseas.

"Once it arrives overseas we follow it through the entire supply chain, discharge, into the feedlot, ex-feedlot, depot and point of slaughter.

"We do have the capabilities of taking it further if it is in a western supply chain abattoir, it could go through to the box beef as well."

Technology improving animal welfare

The electronic ear tag not only stores data on the animal and its health but it can also be read from up to 10 metres away, which Mr Scott said would improve animal welfare.

"Traditionally with our system cattle are tagged in the depot and then they go on the truck and to the boat," he said.

"If we can work with producers and tag the cattle at property there will be less human intervention and better animal welfare outcomes with cattle going through the depot.

"As they walk off the truck, we can identify them, when they walk across the scales we can have a weight, on loading out we can walk them across the scales again and take the weight of those cattle and they go onto the truck and they are traced throughout the whole supply chain."

Global Compliance, IT Director Jati Indrapramasto is currently improving the electronic ear tags so they can be scanned from further away.

"We have started trialling tags that run 10 kilometres away," he said.

"We have also started doing machine learning and machine vision, so basically we are teaching the system to recognise a cow or bull or steer, so that way we are further minimising human contact into the system."

Technology offers more than just traceability

Mr Scott said the technology had been developed to offer more than just a means of traceability.

"We have now gone beyond the requirements of ESCAS [which requires an electronic ear tag to trace the animal], we have utilised CCTV footage, ear tags, high frequency RFID chips, a 24-hour control room," he said

"We see in real time cattle being loaded, unloaded and processed in ESCAS approved facilities … it is a fully integrated traceability system that ensures we know where cattle are at any time in the supply chain.

"We are under scrutiny all the time, we are checked and there are balances in place— we are the most accurate system [tracing animals] in this industry.

"We monitor, we advise and to a certain extent we control. Our job is to ensure the cattle remain within the supply chain or that we advise our clients of anything different."

Mr Scott said he was confident the technology had helped reduce leakage of animals outside of ESCAS approved systems.

"We call the system big brother next edition and big brother is watching and everyone is aware of that now," he said.

"We have cameras in place … we have the IT technology, we have people on the ground, we have a 24-hour control room; so when you combine everything together we ensure the risks are mitigated within the different countries."

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