Training cattle to move through the Automated Livestock Management System and into the DataYard is essential to ensuring regular and correct data is captured by the DataHub, and that the herd is easily accessing water at their own free will and pace.
To guarantee a successful transition of cattle to using the DataMuster system, we have put together our Top 7 tips for training cattle to give you and your herd the best start to maximizing your Data collection!
Tip #1: Slow and steady wins the race!
Make it a slow introduction of equipment to the area you have chosen to set up the ALMS and DataYard. Leave the ends of the DataYard open initially for a few days so the cattle become accustomed to the new infrastructure. Have the solar panel, antenna, and DataHub components erected.
Then gradually close the panels in and add exit spear arms (staged over a few days to a week) so that entry is only past the antenna panel (to record EIDs) and through the entry spear frame.
Leave entry spear arms off at the beginning as it will not matter if some individuals exit through the entry spear. Once all of the herd’s EIDs are being read, the weigh platform can be dropped into place.
Tip #2: Set some pre-season training goals
Weaning time is a great time to do some pre-training in the yards, by getting them accustomed to walking through spears and over the weigh platform as part of the weaning process.
Tip #3: Plant an attractant
Attractants can play a big part in enticing cattle to come inside the DataYard using no force. Anything from a supplement of your choice to a backrub during a bad fly season.
This is setting an example to the herd that if they walk into the DataYard they will be rewarded, enticing them to visit on a regular basis.
Tip #4: Bigger is better
When erecting the DataYard, it is always best to create a bigger space.
The size will depend on the number of cattle accessing that DataYard. We do not want cattle to feel trapped or confined in a small space, as this will deter them from visiting the DataYard again.
If you have existing yards or fencing, such as a dam square instead of a trough, you can utilize this as an ideal spot to put your DataYard.
A guide to cattle panel to herd size ratio is 30-35 cattle panels should easily accommodate 50-100 breeders.
Tip #5: Wing it
Existing fence lines adjacent to the watering point can be used as a wing to guide the stock through the entry race into the DataYard.
If there are no existing fence lines, then you can build a wing off the entry to the DataYard using panels – just ensure this is not creating a space on the other side where cattle can get trapped.
Tip #6: Camouflage the equipment
When first setting up the ALMS we recommend covering the platform with soil initially, so it blends with the surrounding terrain to reduce baulking.
Rubber-lined platforms work best and a rubber flap riveted to the entry end helps to stop dirt and manure compacting under the platform.
Tip #7: In case of emergency, provide multiple exits
Like the aircraft we fly on, the bigger the plane the more exits are required to get people out safely and quickly.
This is the case with larger herds accessing the DataYard and we encourage installing two exits as this provides the cattle with more routes to get out rapidly in case of an emergency, such as bulls fighting.
It also helps relieve congestion on the hot summer days when the cattle may be visiting the water source more frequently.