To complement the development of the livestock and pasture monitoring systems a number of additional environmental sensors and data feeds have been incorporated into the data dashboard as part of the Digital Homestead project. These sensors include aspects of climate (rainfall, temperature, wind speed and direction), forecasts from the Bureau of Meteorology and water tank levels. By bringing information about pastures, cattle and the environment together the project has demonstrated the utility of a holistic approach to herd management in a systems context.
The integration of Walk Over Weighing (WOW) systems into the Digital Homestead provides insight not only into animal weight change but also how behaviours can be affected by the environment. For example, individual animals not visiting a water trough may indicate sickness or calving. Similarly, when the whole group cease to visit a WOW station this may reflect the emergence of alternative water sources, such as pooling following rain.
Initial data from Spyglass highlighted the importance of how the WOW is set up, the animals are trained, and the types of enticements that are useful to ensure animals use the system. In this case cattle had access to two water sources, one accessed via the WOW station, See figure 1.