Unlikely Candidate for Tech Disruption: Agriculture, Livestock and Virtual-Fencing

Mike Cherney reported today at The Wall Street Journal Online that, “The fences that crisscross the vast ranches of the U.S. and Australian Outback seem like an unlikely candidate for tech disruption.

But several startups are betting that high-tech collars for cattle, goats and other livestock could render the fences obsolete, enabling farmers to round up animals more easily than they do now with workers, dogs and even helicopters.

Virtual-fencing startups on at least three continents are looking to sell the collars, which track an animal’s location and use audio signals and mild electric shocks to direct movement. The companies say their products could make shifting a herd as easy as drawing a line on a smartphone app.”

The Journal article noted, “Dutch bank Rabobank, New Zealand fencing company Gallagher Group Ltd. and U.S. venture-capital firms Promus Ventures and Eniac Ventures have invested in some startups that see a big opportunity in the billion-plus global cattle population. In the U.S., farmers were expected to spend more than $300 million on agricultural fencing last year, according to research firm IBISWorld.

“‘The potential of it would be absolutely huge,’ said Boyd Macdonald, general manager at Lone Star Farms, which hasn’t been involved in testing the collars and has some 6,000 cattle on several properties in New Zealand. ‘It would give us so much more control of our pastures, of our animals.'”

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