Dr Jaime Manning has received a grant to test new technology that could help sheep farmers with early detection of disease in their animals.
Dr Jaime Manning has received a grant to test new technology that could help sheep farmers with early detection of disease in their animals. CQUniversity

CQ researcher receives grant for disease detection research

A ROCKHAMPTON researcher has been awarded funding for a project that will see a smart ear tag developed to help farmers detect diseases in their sheep earlier.

Dr Jaime Manning, from Central Queensland University, has been granted the funding to test the smart sensor ear tags and address animal health and well-being issues faces by Queensland wool growers.

The technology, which automatically detects if there are any issues affecting the animals, will be evaluated and tested by the Australian Wool Institute, in conjunction with Dr Manning and the Central Queensland Livestock Centre of Excellence.

"Our research will evaluate whether the smart tags are rugged enough for Queensland's environmental conditions and develop animal behaviour algorithms so farmers can be automatically alerted of any arising health issues and undertake immediate intervention," Dr Manning said.

"The applications we are focussing on are the detection of predator attacks, as well as more subtle behaviour changes associated with disease development in sheep."

The funding, announced earlier this month by Member for Rockhampton Barry O'Rourke, is aimed at supporting local researchers working on breakthrough projects in the agtech sector.

"It's vital that farmers know as soon as possible when certain diseases and predators are threatening their flock," Mr O'Rourke said.

"This smart ear tag can give our farmers the real-time information they need to protect their sheep."

Innovation Minster Kate Jones said the $7.2 million Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowships would support 30 researchers, working in collaboration with a Queensland company on projects that would have an impact on the world.

"Through our Industry Research Fellowships we're making sure that we are keeping the state's best and brightest researchers in Queensland and also attracting talented researchers from interstate and overseas," she said.

"The grazing sheep industry is experiencing a resurgence in Western Queensland and this is one of the many projects we are backing through the $650 million Advance Queensland fund to drive innovation and job growth in regional Queensland."

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said the research funding was another important plank in revitalising the Queensland sheep industry.

"Our sheep and wool industry are already bouncing back in a big way despite ongoing drought conditions," Mr Furner said.

"This kind of innovation can only help our industries to grow and lead the world."