Meandarra's Coggan Farms successfully integrates feedlot cameras for health, ID and performance

Helen Walker
By Helen Walker
May 5 2022 - 1:00am
Coggan Farms runs a multi-species feedlot, which can hold 20,000 head of cattle.

The Coggan family of Meandarra have been pioneers in the agriculture industry with their on-farm state-of-the-art technology and sustainable farming principles for nearly 80 years.

Fifth generation farmer, Tom Coggan, who is the manager of logistics and development, and has a masters in agribusiness, said he saw a need for them to invest in workable automated systems without human involvement.

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As a result the family installed up to 30 to 40 security cameras over their farm in 2018 when they were approached by the CEO of Animal EYEQ Carl Health to install and trial the technology.

That decision has led Coggan Farms to trial the latest AnimalEYEQ artificial intelligence, which uses proprietary computer vision technologies to extract identity, health and performance data of livestock from camera feeds.

"AnimalEYEQ technology is unique in its adaptability to different types of livestock and, when coupled with different hardware, for different operating scenarios," Mr Coggan told Queensland Country Life.

"We installed two of their cameras to start with - one in position on our loading ramp, the other located in our cattle yards to capture staff training.

"Since February, we have installed further cameras in our cattle induction area.

The cameras validate the cattle count during the day.

"We have one camera that tells us our Bos indicus and Bos taurus breed cattle; one for sexing our steers and heifers at induction and another automatic bunk scoring of six."

Mr Coggan is no stranger to the challenges of NLIS tags and human counting, having loaded 72 head to a processor only to be told 71 head were counted off the truck.

"That was a $2800 mistake on the Coggan tab, and it is not an isolated case," he said.

"This system tracks from ramp to payment, and data entry systems at weigh bridge and ramps, the command dashboard unifies weigh bridge, shipment and count validation data.

"You can track discrepancies, missing kill sheets, payment discrepancies and spend much less time on the paperwork and the best part is you can resolve issues much quicker, with minimal conflict between all parties."

Identity, health and performance data can be exported.

Mr Coggan said they were about to trial another two more AnimalEYEQ monitoring cameras, which could bring major benefits for pen riders and other feedlot staff.

"One will automatically count each animal in a pen monitoring system that will work like a daily roll call, while the other will be mounted near the water troughs and it will tell the pen riders the identification of each beast that takes water," he said.

"Overall our reaction to these trials is very exciting and there are promises of what such a relatively low cost camera can do.

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"What we have working is a robust system which is easy to operate and understand and is unbreakable.

"The plan is to integrate artificial intelligence capabilities with off-the-shelf security cameras and it will work."

The family describe their business as a sustainable mixed farming practice and are predominantly grain farmers when the seasons permits.

"As we are having such a great season, we are concentrating on farming and have seen our numbers cattle numbers decline in the feedlot due to high commodity prices," Mr Coggan said.

"In the drier years we go to the maximum capacity and fill the feedlot as our number one commodity."

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Helen Walker

Helen Walker

Toowoomba-based Journalist

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