The value of animal location and behaviour data in the red meat value chain

30th October 2018 · Alexandra Lobb and JP Van Moort

ACIL Allen worked with CQ University (CQU) for Meat and Livestock Australia to produce a report on “Demonstrating the value of animal location and behaviour data in the red meat value chain” (see: Get the full report here (187 pages)). As part of the report, ACIL Allen estimated the benefits to the livestock industry from new technology to remotely monitor the location behaviour and state of cattle and sheep for Australian graziers. 

ACIL Allen designed a survey to focus on the value of the technology to users. Data were collected through in-depth interviews with livestock producers that were conducted by the CQU team. 

Survey and interview questions were designed to estimate of the value of the benefit through articulating the estimated annual cost savings, annual revenue gains, and the potential revenue saving in containing or preventing a catastrophic event (e.g. a serious disease outbreak). These questions were asked in relation to a number of potential applications of the technology and its associated data. 

A sample of cattle and sheep producers were selected from different zones in Australia – the pastoral zone (beef cattle) and the high rainfall/sheep-wheat zone (for beef and sheep). Two scenarios were considered – use of the technology for the whole of herd/flock, and with a ‘sentinel’ animal within the herd/flock. This generated different cost profiles.

Producers reported a range of potential applications and benefits. While a small number of applications had a large value, most of the financial benefit was from the cumulative impact of a number of applications with smaller revenue gains and cost savings. 

Areas where significant economic impacts are likely, but further research is required to estimate the monetary value, includes biosecurity and animal welfare/social license issues. Additionally, there are many other benefits, like “peace of mind” for farmers, which are not financial benefits. Although these benefits cannot be easily quantified, they should not be discounted.

Producers ranked the possible applications of this technology. Across all farm zones and all livestock, the highest ranking applications included water-related behaviour and animal welfare. Other applications considered important by producers include:

  • stock theft
  • mustering efficiency
  • issues relating to pregnancy and birth
  • disease detection.

If the technology is adopted by farmers Australia-wide, the national economic impact is estimated to be as much as $1.3 billion over 10 years across the Australian sheep and cattle industries.

However, as adoption of the technology is important to realise these benefits, and different adoption profiles and cost structures for the technology were considered in the modelling, the minimum accumulated benefits across the cattle and sheep industries over 10 years is estimated to be $480 million, which is less than half the estimated maximum.