By Colin MacGillivray
KILMORE East’s Kevin Butler is encouraging livestock farmers from across Victoria to attend a demonstration of technology, he believes could end rural stock theft, in Kilmore on Monday next week.
Mr Butler will host a field day at Assumption College to demonstrate tracking technology for cows and sheep enabled by a direct-to-satellite smart ear tag.
David Smith, the co-founder of the Ceres Tag technology, which is now used in 24 countries worldwide, will be on hand for the demonstration.
Mr Butler is himself a victim of stock theft, having had nearly 400 lambs worth an estimated $50,000 stolen from his property in January.
He said track technology had the potential to disrupt what he termed a ‘dark crime industry’ of between $70 and $100 million annually.
“Every farmer knows at least a few other farmers who have been the victims of rural theft,” he said.
“We know there were 1251 rural thefts in Victoria in 2022 and only one person has been charged.
“That’s the thing about rural theft – they get away with it. There’s a 99.99 per cent chance that thieves will get away with it, and this stops them in their tracks.”
Mr Butler said he heard about the technology after his lambs were stolen and immediately recognised its potential benefits.
He said the software costs of the satellite tracking system could be reduced if farmers agreed to band together in clusters.
“If I was going to do it on my own it would cost me about $3000 but by having three or four other farmers in a cluster it comes down to about $300 because we’re able to share the costs over three years,” he said.
“I can have a farmer in my cluster who is from Willowmavin, another person on Kangaroo Island and another person in Western Australia. Geographically it doesn’t make any difference.”
Mr Butler said farmers would receive an instant notification on their phone or another device if the tag detected livestock outside the boundary of the property or if they appeared to be moving too fast.
He said the technology had other applications including notifying farmers of escaped or trapped livestock.
Mr Butler said he expected up to 100 people to attend the field day, which will be from 9.30am to 2pm at Assumption College’s Neale Daniher Pavilion.
People can find more information about the Ceres Tag by visiting cerestag.com and people can register for the open day by calling Mr Butler on 0418 530 471.
Mr Butler said attendees would have a photograph of their licence taken to discourage thieves from attending the demonstration.