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Keep tabs on cattle in a virtual electronic kraal


This post is also available in: Afrikaans

Ian Bester remembers how he grew up on the farm and as a child always regarded his father and grandfather with awe. “My grandfather could amble through his herd and tell me exactly what the situation with every animal was. He was especially sensitive to pick up signs when an animal was not looking healthy.”

“The reason why farmers of that period knew their herds so well, was because they spent some time every day between their cattle. They could inspect every animal closely. Today farming has become a much more commercialised science and includes complete record-keeping of the farm and its livestock, as well as compliance and reporting.”

“This is not a bad development, but it does mean that the farmer is spending more time doing administrative and operational tasks that being in the paddocks among his cattle herd.” Says Ian.

Ian’s combination of farming knowledge and experience that he gained studying information technology in London, led to the KRAAL brainchild. Ian’s self-imposed mission is to utilise technology to help farmers getting to know their herds so well that they can apply better control and management, and eventually to increase production and lower their input costs.

“The message I think farmers should understand is that this technology can be an exceptional resource on the farm, “says Ian.

The product supplied by Kraal to the farmer consists of two parts – the smart digital ear tag with GPS, which can be easily attached to the ear of every beast, and then a unique Cloud software operating system on the farmer’s computer or smartphone. The ear tags are the product of two years’ research and development. Every tag has a number of sensors, for example to indicate the animal’s location, as well as a small solar panel that generates the required power. Once the ear tag has been attached to the animal, no maintenance is required for five years.

While the animal is busy with its daily meanderings on the farm, this ear tag records all information – if the cow is standing, walking, grazing or lying down – everything that can be used to tell the farmer more about the animal. The ear tag transmits information as far as 15 km to the operating system, where the information is then processed into meaningful figures and graphs that will support decision making. This system will enable farmers to determine exactly what the situation is in his/her cattle herd.

Ian explains that there are various products from which the farmer can select depending in individual needs. The price of the product is determined by the amount of information required by the farmer.

Ian Bester, owner of Kraal Animal Management Systems, was at NAMPO Cape to introduce farmers to his animal management technology.

“The information supplied to the farmer by our technology enables the farmer to determine exactly what his production is per large stock unit (LSU) or per hectare,” says Ian. Further a history of grazing patterns can be assembled and the farmer can see how the cattle fare on different types of grazing. It also takes the level of tracking to new levels because it can be established exactly where every beast grew up and whether there were any behavioural deviations.

One of the aims of Kraal is to be user-friendly. That is why the operation system has been made as uncomplicated as possible. When a farmer invests in Kraal, a Kraal agent will spend a day on the farm to assist the farmer in getting to grips with the technology, showing him how to apply it efficiently so that the outcome will ensure that he eventually will attain the best technology can give.

Farmers can contact Ian Bester by visiting the website or alternatively sending an email message to . You can also visit Kraal on Facebook for further information.

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