The results from a trial of the eshepherd experimental prototype have been collated and the findings are extremely encouraging.
The findings from the trial, conducted on a beef cattle farm in southern NSW, revealed that the virtual fence was effective 99.7 per cent of the time it was turned on.
It proved successful in preventing initially naïve heifers from accessing an environmentally sensitive riparian zone after having previously been allowed access.
Results showed that not all animals interacted with the virtual fence in the first 48 hours but rather responded to the interactions of a few ‘lead’ animals.
This is suggestive of a herd effect and the findings recommended further work around this because when there are large numbers of animals, some of them may rarely interact with the virtual fence.
In another example of the herd effect, several animals crossed the virtual fence as they were highly motivated to access cattle in the adjoining paddock.
These animals were herded back to their own group within 40 minutes. In addition, when the virtual fence was removed the animals quickly returned to the riparian zone which indicated they were responding to the audio cues and electrical stimulus rather than the location of virtual fence.
This is extremely promising for virtual fencing in sensitive areas as it means it will be effective for applications such as ecological grazing.
As further behaviour data becomes available from the trial, it will become apparent how the presence of the virtual fence did or did not affect the animal.