Knowing where livestock is every moment of the day is now possible, thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT) technology. Farmers can view the movement of livestock throughout the day and night and no longer have to rely on manual, labour-intensive, and inaccurate updates.

“Keeping control of large herds is a challenging task. In South Africa especially, livestock theft is a serious problem affecting large commercial farmers as well as smaller-scale farming operations. UNISA estimates the value of livestock stolen during 2019/2020 to be around R1 179 458 600. On average there are about 182 cattle, 282 sheep and 138 goats being stolen every day in South Africa. Beyond controlling theft, technology can be deployed to keep track of animals for delivery to market,” says De Villiers Wolhuter, Business Development Manager at IoT.nxt.

IoT.nxt, in association with partner and parent company Vodacom, has rolled out a livestock tracking and monitoring IoT application at a farm north of Pretoria – implemented specifically to address livestock theft – that delivered results within weeks of introducing the solution.

“Cattle have been fitted with solar panel powered tags that send data to a central point which can be viewed using a range of devices, cell phones included. The farmer has a full view of each animal fitted with a tag on a single view dashboard that updates information every two hours, day and night,” Wolhuter says.

Farmer August Rocher says he started searching for technology solutions to track livestock and reduce stock theft in the early hours of the morning after a particularly exhausting night protecting his herd against thieves. “I found IoT.nxt and Vodacom after an exhaustive search which started in Australia and ended in The Netherlands. Finding a solutions provider that is based in South Africa was excellent news and I started discussions about my challenges and what can be done the next day.”

“The IoT.nxt and Vodacom teams had a great understanding of how to address what I needed, and their impressive, combined technology proved to be the answer. Since implementation, I now have a full view of where the herds are and can also view individual animals that are not where they are supposed to be. It allows for a better response time to avert theft. And a significant plus is the fact that I can view the data on a cell phone,” he adds.

“The fast roll-out was remarkable. I expected a long process. The biggest challenge was setting up the tower and finding the best location for it. Once that was done the rest – tagging the cattle and setting up the dashboard – was finalised quickly. In the next phase, we will introduce a security solution to monitor herds at night, monitor water levels in tanks, troughs and dams, and track tractors and other equipment. We are aiming for a full smart farm in the months ahead. This will secure the future viability of my farm,” he says.

The livestock tracking and monitoring solution offers:

  • Livestock GPS location
  • Livestock movement
  • Early detection warning (erratic or abnormal movement)
  • Unique ID per animal
  • A user interface that displays the above data points on two views (mobile app and web portal).
  • Alarms and notifications for predefined out-of-threshold conditions
  • Livestock leaving predefined geofence area.
  • Multiple user access to tracking device information that is sent out every 2 hours (ear tag), 1 hour (collar)
  • Grazing patterns and behaviour
    • Cloud storage of data
    • Historical data reporting

IoT.nxt will join Vodacom to exhibit technology solutions for agriculture at the 2022 Nampo Harvest Day event which will take place in Bothaville from 16 to 20 May.

View a video of the solution here: Livestock tracking using IoT solutions.