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Evaluation of a remote drafting system for regulating sheep access to supplement

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Bowen, M. K., Pepper, P. M., McPhie, R.C. and Winter, M.R. (2009) Evaluation of a remote drafting system for regulating sheep access to supplement. Animal Production Science, 49 (3). pp. 248-252.


Article Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/EA08161

Publisher URL: http://www.publish.csiro.au


Remote drafting technology now available for sheep makes possible targeted supplementation of individuals within a grazing flock. This system was evaluated by using 68 Merino wethers grazing dry-season, native Mitchell grass pasture (predominantly Astrebla spp.) as a group and receiving access to lupin grain through a remote drafter 0, 1, 2, 4 or 7 days/week for 8 weeks. The sole paddock watering point was separately fenced and access was via a one-way flow gate. Sheep exited the watering point through a remote drafter operated by solar power and were drafted by radio frequency identification (RFID) tag, according to treatment, either back into the paddock or into a common supplement yard where lupins were provided ad libitum in a self-feeder. Sheep were drafted into the supplement yard on only their first time through the drafter during the prescribed 24-h period and exited the supplement yard via one-way flow gates in their own time. The remote drafter operated with a high accuracy, with only 2.1% incorrect drafts recorded during the experimental period out of a total of 7027 sheep passes through the remote drafter. The actual number of accesses to supplement for each treatment group, in order, were generally less than that intended, i.e. 0.02, 0.69, 1.98, 3.35 and 6.04 days/week. Deviations from the intended number of accesses to supplement were mainly due to sheep not coming through to water on their allocated day of treatment access, although some instances were due to incorrect drafts. There was a non-linear response in growth rate to increased frequency of access to lupins with the growth rate response plateauing at similar to 3 actual accesses per week, corresponding to a growth rate of 72.5 g/head. day. This experiment has demonstrated the application of the remote drafting supplementation system for the first time under grazing conditions and with the drafter operated completely from solar power. The experiment demonstrates a growth response to increasing frequency of access to supplement and provides a starting point with which to begin to develop feeding strategies to achieve sheep weight-change targets.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Animal Science
Additional Information:© The State of Queensland (through the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries).
Keywords:Auto-drafting; precision nutrition; rangeland; grazing mature pasture; weaned lambs; eating hay; responses.
Subjects:Technology > Technology (General)
Animal culture > Sheep
Animal culture > Feeds and feeding. Animal nutrition
Live Archive:16 Apr 2009 03:58
Last Modified:21 Dec 2021 02:30

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