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Use of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to record grazing beef cattle water point use

journal contribution
posted on 2020-03-23, 00:00 authored by LR Williams, DR Fox, GJ Bishop-Hurley, David SwainDavid Swain
Current recommendations for the provision of water points for grazing beef cattle in northern Australia are based on effective grazing distribution rather than cattle water point use. Scientific examination of cattle watering behaviour under varying conditions of climate, pasture and water availability (i.e. distances between water points) is required to inform water infrastructure development recommendations and maximise cattle productivity. This study assessed the potential of Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID) reader data from remote weighing technology to examine cattle visit times and time intervals between cattle visits to water points. Data from three cattle stations in northern Australia was used. Daily weather data (temperature, humidity, wind speed, cloud cover, solar exposure and rainfall) were obtained from official weather stations located at or near each experiment site. Linear mixed-effects models were used to detect variation in cattle behaviour within and between stations. The RFID reader data showed that most cattle visits to water points occurred during daylight hours (between 06:00 and 19:00 h) and within 48 h of a previous visit. The time of day that cattle visited water points did not differ between stations (P > 0.05) but varied according to month (P = 0.001), period of day (P < 0.001), time since last visit (P = 0.013) and cloud cover (P = 0.043). Time intervals between cattle visits to water points differed considerably between stations (P < 0.002) and appeared to reflect seasonal conditions and water availability at each station. Time intervals between visits to water points also varied according to month (P < 0.001), period of day (P < 0.001), temperature-humidity index (P = 0.035) and cloud cover (P = 0.029). The results of the study show that RFID reader data is able to detect behavioural differences according to climate and water availability and is a suitable tool to study cattle water point use. Cattle water point use data could be used to aid mustering and trapping cattle, identify animals that fail to visit a water point, better understand pasture conditions, predict the amount and consistency of weight data collected from remote weighing technology, improve decision making by graziers and inform recommendations for the optimal number and distribution of water points. © 2018


Category 1 - Australian Competitive Grants (this includes ARC, NHMRC)




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Elsevier, Netherlands

Peer Reviewed

  • Yes

Open Access

  • No

Acceptance Date


External Author Affiliations

University of Melbourne; CSIRO; Environmentrics AustraliA

Author Research Institute

  • Institute for Future Farming Systems

Era Eligible

  • Yes


Computers and Electronics in Agriculture