virtual fence anyone?

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Anonymous

I'm doing a commercialization assessment on a technology developed and patented by the USDA, called the virtual fence. Perhaps you've heard of it. It uses ear tags to give an audible cue to cattle (and possibly other animals) to get an animal to move in a desired location. If the audible cue doesn't work it is followed by mild electric shocks (up to three) to try to train the animal to respond to the audible cue. The idea is to use the technology to remotely cue the animals to move to another grazing location, and to control stock density. My job is to see what prospective users think of such technology. Do you think cattle can be trained to respond to audible cues? It seems particularly suited for controlled grazing, and yet I'm not clear on just how widespread that is being used. Any ideas? The USDA has info on the technology at <A HREF="http://www.macaulay.ac.uk/gps/gps_abstract_2001.pdf" TARGET="_blank">http://www.macaulay.ac.uk/gps/gps_abstract_2001.pdf</A>, <A HREF="http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/srchnum.htm" TARGET="_blank">http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/srchnum.htm</A>, and <A HREF="http://www.geospatial-online.com/geospatialsolutions/article/articleDetail.jsp?id=65014&pageID=2" TARGET="_blank">http://www.geospatial-online.com/geospatialsolutions/article/articleDetail.jsp?id=65014&pageID=2</A>. I'd appreciate any thoughts you might have. Thanks!



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OP
A

Anonymous

They can be trained to an audible cue or any other methid, hand, word, etc. My concern with an ear tag would be what happens when the tag gets lost. Every year we have a few tags that come off somewhere, somehow. Some tags have been on for several years so it isn't poor design or application. BTW, that's also one of my concerns with EID using ear tags.

dun

> I'm doing a commercialization
> assessment on a technology
> developed and patented by the
> USDA, called the virtual fence.
> Perhaps you've heard of it. It
> uses ear tags to give an audible
> cue to cattle (and possibly other
> animals) to get an animal to move
> in a desired location. If the
> audible cue doesn't work it is
> followed by mild electric shocks
> (up to three) to try to train the
> animal to respond to the audible
> cue. The idea is to use the
> technology to remotely cue the
> animals to move to another grazing
> location, and to control stock
> density. My job is to see what
> prospective users think of such
> technology. Do you think cattle
> can be trained to respond to
> audible cues? It seems
> particularly suited for controlled
> grazing, and yet I'm not clear on
> just how widespread that is being
> used. Any ideas? The USDA has info
> on the technology at
> <A HREF="http://www.macaulay.ac.uk/gps/gps_abstract_2001.pdf" TARGET="_blank">http://www.macaulay.ac.uk/gps/gps_abstract_2001.pdf</A>
> ,
> <A HREF="http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/srchnum.htm" TARGET="_blank">http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/srchnum.htm</A>
> , and
> <A HREF="http://www.geospatial-online.com/geospatialsolutions/article/articleDetail.jsp?id=65014&pageID=2" TARGET="_blank">http://www.geospatial-online.com/geospatialsolutions/article/articleDetail.jsp?id=65014&pageID=2</A>
> . I'd appreciate any thoughts you
> might have. Thanks!



[email protected]
 
OP
A

Anonymous

> I'm doing a commercialization
> assessment on a technology
> developed and patented by the
> USDA, called the virtual fence.
> Perhaps you've heard of it. It
> uses ear tags to give an audible
> cue to cattle (and possibly other
> animals) to get an animal to move
> in a desired location. If the
> audible cue doesn't work it is
> followed by mild electric shocks
> (up to three) to try to train the
> animal to respond to the audible
> cue. The idea is to use the
> technology to remotely cue the
> animals to move to another grazing
> location, and to control stock
> density. My job is to see what
> prospective users think of such
> technology. Do you think cattle
> can be trained to respond to
> audible cues? It seems
> particularly suited for controlled
> grazing, and yet I'm not clear on
> just how widespread that is being
> used. Any ideas? The USDA has info
> on the technology at
> <A HREF="http://www.macaulay.ac.uk/gps/gps_abstract_2001.pdf" TARGET="_blank">http://www.macaulay.ac.uk/gps/gps_abstract_2001.pdf</A>
> ,
> <A HREF="http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/srchnum.htm" TARGET="_blank">http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/srchnum.htm</A>
> , and
> <A HREF="http://www.geospatial-online.com/geospatialsolutions/article/articleDetail.jsp?id=65014&pageID=2" TARGET="_blank">http://www.geospatial-online.com/geospatialsolutions/article/articleDetail.jsp?id=65014&pageID=2</A>
> . I'd appreciate any thoughts you
> might have. Thanks!

Besides the loss factor that dun questioned, how big an area will they work in? We have a lot of 5,000-10,000 acre pastures. I like the idea of never picking up a fencing pliers again, but question the logistics of the idea.
 
OP
A

Anonymous

Cattle are easily trained and creatures of habit. Seems like our bulls would be the problem. When breeding season is in, the bulls are reacting to other cues rather than sounds and shocks. The virtual fence might not be strong enough to persuade where he goes. In relation to density, does it mean scattering the cattle over a paddock, or something else? Cattle are naturally herding animals and scattering them would be training them to go against their born behaviour pattern. I do like the idea of being able to cue the cattle remotely for moving a rotationally grazed herd to another pasture, but it would be difficult to convince a cattleman he does not need a fence.

> I'm doing a commercialization
> assessment on a technology
> developed and patented by the
> USDA, called the virtual fence.
> Perhaps you've heard of it. It
> uses ear tags to give an audible
> cue to cattle (and possibly other
> animals) to get an animal to move
> in a desired location. If the
> audible cue doesn't work it is
> followed by mild electric shocks
> (up to three) to try to train the
> animal to respond to the audible
> cue. The idea is to use the
> technology to remotely cue the
> animals to move to another grazing
> location, and to control stock
> density. My job is to see what
> prospective users think of such
> technology. Do you think cattle
> can be trained to respond to
> audible cues? It seems
> particularly suited for controlled
> grazing, and yet I'm not clear on
> just how widespread that is being
> used. Any ideas? The USDA has info
> on the technology at
> <A HREF="http://www.macaulay.ac.uk/gps/gps_abstract_2001.pdf" TARGET="_blank">http://www.macaulay.ac.uk/gps/gps_abstract_2001.pdf</A>
> ,
> <A HREF="http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/srchnum.htm" TARGET="_blank">http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/srchnum.htm</A>
> , and
> <A HREF="http://www.geospatial-online.com/geospatialsolutions/article/articleDetail.jsp?id=65014&pageID=2" TARGET="_blank">http://www.geospatial-online.com/geospatialsolutions/article/articleDetail.jsp?id=65014&pageID=2</A>
> . I'd appreciate any thoughts you
> might have. Thanks!
 
OP
A

Anonymous

Interestingly, everyone I've talked to has the same concerns. The animals don't always cooperate. What if the tag falls off. I know the USDA has had successful trials with the technology, and wonder how many of these it would take to convince cattle owners to consider using it? It is really a radical departure from using fences. Since the technology uses GPS, there is some error in the boundary definition (I think it's up to 20 feet) so an area defined by this technology would have to be in the order of, say ten or twenty acres perhaps? The virtual fence is designed to also contain an ID tag, which may make it slightly more useful since it would, conceivably, be doing two things at once. Thanks for your thoughts, it helps me quite a bit in understanding how this technology might get moved into the market.



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OP
A

Anonymous

We subdivide our pastures into smaller paddocks with poliwire for MIG. Frequently if the cows approach an area that has had the poliwire up for a while and they've become used to it being there, or if we take down a section of high-tensile to changes the overall pasture size/shape, they won't cross where the fence has been. They mentally are aware of the location of the fence and just won't cross it.

dun

> Interestingly, everyone I've
> talked to has the same concerns.
> The animals don't always
> cooperate. What if the tag falls
> off. I know the USDA has had
> successful trials with the
> technology, and wonder how many of
> these it would take to convince
> cattle owners to consider using
> it? It is really a radical
> departure from using fences. Since
> the technology uses GPS, there is
> some error in the boundary
> definition (I think it's up to 20
> feet) so an area defined by this
> technology would have to be in the
> order of, say ten or twenty acres
> perhaps? The virtual fence is
> designed to also contain an ID
> tag, which may make it slightly
> more useful since it would,
> conceivably, be doing two things
> at once. Thanks for your thoughts,
> it helps me quite a bit in
> understanding how this technology
> might get moved into the market.



[email protected]
 
OP
A

Anonymous

That's really interesting. Do you see this as a problem? That you can't get the animals to move to another area because they still think the fence is there?

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OP
A

Anonymous

What will happen when a cow wanders out of its space? GPS won't always track under foliage, hollows, or canyons. It takes three satellites to give accurate position. When the cow walks out in the open and receives a shock witch way will it turn?

>Interestingly, everyone I've
> talked to has the same concerns.
> The animals don't always
> cooperate. What if the tag falls
> off. I know the USDA has had
> successful trials with the
> technology, and wonder how many of
> these it would take to convince
> cattle owners to consider using
> it? It is really a radical
> departure from using fences. Since
> the technology uses GPS, there is
> some error in the boundary
> definition (I think it's up to 20
> feet) so an area defined by this
> technology would have to be in the
> order of, say ten or twenty acres
> perhaps? The virtual fence is
> designed to also contain an ID
> tag, which may make it slightly
> more useful since it would,
> conceivably, be doing two things
> at once. Thanks for your thoughts,
> it helps me quite a bit in
> understanding how this technology
> might get moved into the market.
 
OP
A

Anonymous

They will eventually get the idea, but the "creatures of habit" reigns true for a while. It would seem that the practicality in relation to "return on investment" will play a major role in it's acceptance by cattlemen. If they could resist/reduce the cost of fencing it would be practical. Otherwise????? I'm not sure I understand all of the possibilities. Could anyone here list them? The one's I see are: 1. Less or no fencing. 2. Identification (Replace existing method) 3. More automation in herd movement.

> That's really interesting. Do you
> see this as a problem? That you
> can't get the animals to move to
> another area because they still
> think the fence is there?
 
OP
A

Anonymous

It's been a problem in the past. Our solution is them in one spot and pull the wire around behind them and use it to push them through were there isn't a fence. It;s less of a problem with calves, but cows that have been around for a while seem to be overly conditioned.

dun

> That's really interesting. Do you
> see this as a problem? That you
> can't get the animals to move to
> another area because they still
> think the fence is there?



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OP
A

Anonymous

that's kind of the thought i had.....reminded me of the helen keller joke: "how did her mom punish her? she rearranged the furniture." seems like just when the cows figure out where they can't go & quit being shocked, it'll be time to move them somewhere else. seems like this system might work for perimeter fences but maybe not for interior, although i would be less likely to want to trust it for perimeter.
 
OP
A

Anonymous

> What will happen when a cow
> wanders out of its space? GPS
> won't always track under foliage,
> hollows, or canyons. It takes
> three satellites to give accurate
> position. When the cow walks out
> in the open and receives a shock
> witch way will it turn?

The one thing that hasn't been mentioned is that fences not only keep animals in, it also keeps things out. Four wheel drives, fourwheelers, hunters, other peoples cattle, horses etc.
 
OP
A

Anonymous

Questions concerning difficulty to change programing, cost, reliability; these will dictate acceptance. I cell graze now and will try the technology when it becomes available.



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OP
A

Anonymous

The ear tag is in wireless communication with a computer that has the ranch or paddock mapped out via GPS. When the cattle get within a predetermined distance from the boundary (say 15 feet), the cues begin. If the series of cues doesn't work, the computer will somehow alert the rancher. I think this is being developed right now, how that alarm will work. BTW, this technology was never designed as perimeter fencing, though I think it could be used as a secondary type, if you're already using it for controlled grazing.

[email protected]
 
OP
A

Anonymous

> I'm doing a commercialization
> assessment on a technology
> developed and patented by the
> USDA, called the virtual fence.
> Perhaps you've heard of it. It
> uses ear tags to give an audible
> cue to cattle (and possibly other
> animals) to get an animal to move
> in a desired location. If the
> audible cue doesn't work it is
> followed by mild electric shocks
> (up to three) to try to train the
> animal to respond to the audible
> cue. The idea is to use the
> technology to remotely cue the
> animals to move to another grazing
> location, and to control stock
> density. My job is to see what
> prospective users think of such
> technology. Do you think cattle
> can be trained to respond to
> audible cues? It seems
> particularly suited for controlled
> grazing, and yet I'm not clear on
> just how widespread that is being
> used. Any ideas? The USDA has info
> on the technology at
> <A HREF="http://www.macaulay.ac.uk/gps/gps_abstract_2001.pdf" TARGET="_blank">http://www.macaulay.ac.uk/gps/gps_abstract_2001.pdf</A>
> ,
> <A HREF="http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/srchnum.htm" TARGET="_blank">http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/srchnum.htm</A>
> , and
> <A HREF="http://www.geospatial-online.com/geospatialsolutions/article/articleDetail.jsp?id=65014&pageID=2" TARGET="_blank">http://www.geospatial-online.com/geospatialsolutions/article/articleDetail.jsp?id=65014&pageID=2</A>
> . I'd appreciate any thoughts you
> might have. Thanks!



[email protected]
 
OP
A

Anonymous

> I'm doing a commercialization
> assessment on a technology
> developed and patented by the
> USDA, called the virtual fence.
> Perhaps you've heard of it. It
> uses ear tags to give an audible
> cue to cattle (and possibly other
> animals) to get an animal to move
> in a desired location. If the
> audible cue doesn't work it is
> followed by mild electric shocks
> (up to three) to try to train the
> animal to respond to the audible
> cue. The idea is to use the
> technology to remotely cue the
> animals to move to another grazing
> location, and to control stock
> density. My job is to see what
> prospective users think of such
> technology. Do you think cattle
> can be trained to respond to
> audible cues? It seems
> particularly suited for controlled
> grazing, and yet I'm not clear on
> just how widespread that is being
> used. Any ideas? The USDA has info
> on the technology at
> <A HREF="http://www.macaulay.ac.uk/gps/gps_abstract_2001.pdf" TARGET="_blank">http://www.macaulay.ac.uk/gps/gps_abstract_2001.pdf</A>
> ,
> <A HREF="http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/srchnum.htm" TARGET="_blank">http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/srchnum.htm</A>
> , and
> <A HREF="http://www.geospatial-online.com/geospatialsolutions/article/articleDetail.jsp?id=65014&pageID=2" TARGET="_blank">http://www.geospatial-online.com/geospatialsolutions/article/articleDetail.jsp?id=65014&pageID=2</A>
> . I'd appreciate any thoughts you
> might have. Thanks!

This is my first attempt at using an on-line discussion technique! I am one of the co-inventors of the Directional Virtual Fence (DVF TM) project which Lisa posted to begin this discussion. I have read all the responses to her original post and the questions are all excellent. The only one we have not addressed ourselves is the question of "deep canyons and their affect on GPS". However, I have been in contact with colleagues who have used GPS in VERY steep canyons and they have been successful. The improvements in GPS technology are remarkable and seem to change almost daily ... all for the better.

The web sites Lisa listed will hopefully answer many of your questions, however, if you have specific questions I would welcome an e-mail <A HREF="mailto:([email protected]">([email protected]</A>) and we can discuss your particular question at your convenience.

The one point that must be understood with any virtual fencing is that it relies 100% on animal behavior, therefore it should NEVER be used where the health or safety of either man or animals is in question. Having said this it is not an option for perimeter fencing and I do not see it EVER to be an option for conventional fencing of perimeters, especially along traffic right-of-ways or between neighbors! However, it is my opinion that for internal fencing such as that used in rotational strategies or to fence (in or out) riparian areas along streams that run through your property, and require management, it could be considered as an alternative management tool. Since animal distribution remains the second biggest challenge to managing free-ranging animals once stocking rate is correctly determined and applied this methodology allows a way to manipulate where animals are in real time.

Our system moves both in space and time without ANYTHING on the ground except what the animal is wearing. Furthermore, it is my opinion that within the next few years we will not have to house the cuing device in an ear tag and so the concern about "losing control" because the ear tag was lost will no longer be a concern. The one concern will be power requirements to keep the electronics powered under "field conditions" and this will be the most challenging area for this type of technology for the forseeable future. Flexible solar cells and plastic battery technology are two "bright" spots on the "power" horizon that are currently being investigated.

To date our tests do not show that "memory" prevents animals from moving over a location where the "fence" may have been yesterday. There is nothing for the animal to initially "see" as with an electric fence and because we can move the fence at any rate the manager desires the animal must cue on the cue and not associate the cue with an object(s) on the landscape. Remember that even for a "static" DVF the +/- 15 to 20 meter accuracy of non corrected GPS signal helps to keep the animal from knowing exactly where the fence is on the landscape in contrast to an electric fence which does not move at all! We only move the animals with the device when the animal itself is moving (foraging or walking). This methodology focuses on low stress animal handlilng. Yes, you could send cues to get an animal to make it get up and move when it is resting but in my opinion this is NOT how the system should be used to give optimum results.

Hope to hear from those of you who have questions the web sites or my comments above have not addressed.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Dean



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