Stock theft – more organized crime than Jolly Swagman – costs Australian farmers more than $100 million a year.
But a software startup in Melbourne hopes to tackle rustling and other livestock identification issues with a unique animal facial recognition system.
Z Ware has developed a livestock identification technology called Stoktake to not only tackle cattle fouling, but also streamline management and provide a reliable, non-harmful way to identify animals.
take stick is as simple as taking a photo of the cow’s face on a smartphone or tablet, then uploading it to Stoktake’s AI-based cloud platform to produce individual animals.
Yes. Not all cows look the same.
Z Ware founder and CEO Dr Phillip Zada said the algorithm they developed profiles a cow in a way that produces the same result as unique fingerprints on humans.
“It has over 99% accuracy based on the 500 livestock images we tested,” he said.
“It is our intention to test another 150,000 images. On-farm trials begin this month.”
Current methods of identifying livestock include ear tags, branding, retinal scans, e-tags, RFID tags embedded in the animal, and DNA testing.
But they all have shortcomings, said Dr Zada: ear tags can be easily removed, brand names can be changed, RFID tags removed and DNA matching is expensive and time-consuming.
“Our process is faster and will be a complementary method to existing technologies,” he said.
“We also need to put some extra work into the cost model because it has to be affordable, whether you’re a hobby farmer or have a large-scale enterprise.”
Cattle rustling has been around since the First Fleet raided the Sydney coast with four head of cattle. PwC estimates that more than 28,000 units are stolen each year, and with an average price of $3,700 per animal, that’s an annual problem of $105 million.
The magnitude of the problem is revealed in a 2020 report by Dr. Kyle Mulrooney for the Center for Rural Criminology at the University of New England, which found that 44% of farmers in NSW reported cattle theft.
Dr. Mulrooney, who worked with Dr. Zada believes that the problem is underreported. Less than half of farmers say they would report it because they experienced it “all the time”.
Who is responsible is also largely a mystery, with the Victorian Farmers Federation saying that in 2021 of 267 reported cattle theft offences, 230 remain unsolved.
“Farm crime is widespread as offenders have a low risk of being caught due to the space and remoteness of many farms. But the rewards of crime are high,” said Dr. Mulrooney.
Last year in the Northern Territory, a 71-year-old man was charged with stealing 1,200 head of cattle worth $1.47 million.
Dr. Zada organized monthly roundtables last year with police, academics, farmers and others to develop Stoktake as a solution, and hopes it will become part of a nationwide livestock imagery. will recognize it.
“Farmers are struggling to meet demand, higher costs and labor shortages – innovations like Stoktake can keep the country alive,” he said.
“I believe the Australian technology sector is one of the best in the world. We have brilliant people in this country and it’s all about working together. Our goal is to build the best platform as an Australian solution, in Australia by Australians.”
Z Ware is headquartered in Melbourne, with offices in Sydney, Adelaide, Canberra and Armidale.