Beef producers have a new tool to help in the management of bloat, with a free app providing an early warning system of cases in their area.
The Bloat Alert app has been developed as part of Charles Sturt University research into bloat in southern beef production systems and is available for iPhone users from the App Store.
Research leader, Charles Sturt Professor Bruce Allworth said beef producers can use the app to report cases which will then alert other producers that bloat is occurring in the area.
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"Knowing that bloat is occurring locally gives producers a heads-up that they need to check their cattle and possibly initiate or increase preventive measures," Professor Allworth said.
Professor Allworth said importantly producers who report bloat using the app won't be specifically identified.
"The app only reports the postcode where the bloat occurs, not the exact location, so producers can report cases to assist fellow producers without being identified themselves," he said.
The app will also enable scientists to measure the level of bloat in specific regions and to better understand the exact conditions under which it is occurring.
It's part of bloat research, funded by the Charles Sturt Fred Morley Centre and the Darcy O'Sullivan Bequest that has involved a survey of 218 beef producers.
Professor Allworth said the research team is now following up more intensely with some of those producers.
"The aim is to be able to give producers as much information on risk factors for bloat as we can, and the Bloat Alert app fits in with this approach," Professor Allworth said.
"Luckily to date, 2021 has not been as severe for bloat as the past two seasons but producers are now entering the high-risk winter and early spring period. We are keen to get the app out so the early warning system is available."
Professor Allworth said the more producers who download and use the Bloat Alert app to report cases, the more useful it will be to the whole industry.
"Reporting cases of bloat as they occur is critical to the app being useful," he said. "You need the app on your iPhone to be notified of bloat in your area."
The app is still being tested and the research team hopes to have an android version available for all producers in 2022.
The development team includes University of Sydney PhD student James Allworth, who wrote the app, and Central Queensland University postdoctoral researcher Dr Cara Wilson.
Producers can download the free app at www.bit.ly/bloatalert or search for Bloat Alert on the App Store.
Charles Sturt bloat research will be featured at the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation Livestock Forum in Wagga Wagga and online on Friday 30 July, with registrations available at www.csu.edu.au/research/grahamcentre/2021-livestock-forum.
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