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eShepherd™ just got cheaper: Virtual Fencing no longer dependent on expensive base stations for connectivity

Sunday, 05 May, 2024

cellular news article 2

Precision herd management using Gallagher’s eShepherd cattle neckbands just got easier with eShepherd now providing coverage wherever your cellular phone works, removing the need for expensive start-up infrastructure with connectivity base stations.

eShepherd is Gallagher’s pioneering virtual fencing solution that uses neckbands to train cattle to remain within a virtual fencing barrier. It allows farmers to move and contain livestock anywhere on their farm, directly from their laptop or phone. Director of eShepherd Sales and Commercialisation, Sharl Liebergreen, says the eShepherd system has traditionally been driven by long-range communication using base stations installed across farms that can communicate over 5km. eShepherd neckbands are now available with built-in cellular connectivity, removing the need to install base stations on your farm. That means each individual neckband connects to your local cellular network, meaning faster and cheaper startup costs for virtual fencing.

The updated neckband variant can now use a global SIM card to connect to a local cellular network, removing the need for base stations and saving farmers the initial infrastructure cost of $5,000 per station. The neckbands use specific bands (referred to as IoT bands) of the local cellular network, which provide enhanced coverage and connectivity, especially in remote or rural areas where traditional cellular services might be less reliable, says Sharl. The bands consistently ensure the reliable transmission of data.

Sharl says Gallagher could see the growth in cellular coverage across New Zealand and Australia with recent developments including SpaceX partnering with local cellular companies to improve rural connectivity and Gallagher saw the opportunity to transform the system and save farmers money – enabling them to get straight into virtual fencing, and not spend time and money on connectivity towers. “By leveraging those cellular networks, we can give farmers more flexibility and save them the cost of installing base stations – which are valued at $5,000 each,” says Sharl.

“Recent virtual fencing research described virtual fencing installation with base stations being a huge barrier to entry – with costs as high as $40,000. Farmers have told us they would rather invest in more neckbands than base stations,” says Sharl. He says the cellular option will also be welcomed by Gallagher’s American and Canadian customers who graze large paddocks, often not side by side or nearby each other, but they do have great cellular coverage. “If the farm has cellular coverage, there is no requirement to invest in base stations. Each eShepherd neckband will connect to the local cellular network. The farmer doesn’t have to do anything. The cost of the cellular connection is managed by Gallagher,” says Sharl.

“With a SIM installed in the neckbands to facilitate the cellular connection, farmers will simply need to turn the neckbands on, fit them onto their animals, and they can start managing and virtually fencing their herds immediately. eShepherd will take care of the rest, including connecting to the cellular network and managing the billing between the network and the neckbands.” says Sharl.With cellular network connectivity, we can immediately deliver new solutions and software updates over the network, directly to the neckband. Ensuring the farmer is working with the latest features with minimal disruption to the daily operations of farmers, says Sharl.

Sharl says the new feature will also be particularly useful for small-scale operators or lifestyle farmers. “With no need for expensive base stations, lifestyle farmers can easily implement virtual fencing on their properties, ensuring the welfare of their livestock without breaking the bank,” says Sharl. “In the case of lifestyle property owners. They often work away from their property but even when they are busy juggling multiple responsibilities, they can still efficiently manage their livestock using eShepherd and cellular connectivity,” says Sharl.

To learn more and sign up for eShepherd virtual fencing - click here.