Facial recognition for sheep selection I Dr Mark ferguson, neXtgen Agri

Award-winning artificial intelligence technology recognising sheep's faces via cameras in the paddock could provide a transformational leap forward the Australasian sheep industry.

“Of the majority of the 23 million lambs born from 17 million ewes each year we don't know which lamb comes from which ewe, so facial recognition in the paddock will unlock massive potential for the sheep industry,” explains Dr Mark Ferguson.

One of this week’s Sarah’s Country’s Change Maker is Dr Mark Ferguson from neXtgen Agri who recently won the 2021 ChristchurchNZ Supernode Food, Fibre & AgriTech Challenge and explains:

  • Their pilot project began with Australian Wool Innovation and University of Sydney three years ago and proved in yard trials that the technology of recognising sheep from cameras works. Now Genesmith, is taking the cameras into the paddock to help match ewes with their lambs to great success.

  • The ultimate way to reduce methane released per unit is by optimising production, hence accurately selecting ewes to breed from based on their ability to have a number of healthy lambs and take the inefficiency out of the system.

  • Currently farmer’s ability to identify sheep is manually by humans via visual sheep tags and matching the parentage of the lambs via DNA is too expensive ($15-$23/p.head) to be viable for commercial sheep farmers.

  • By June 2022 they endeavour to have a commercial product developed with the ability to capture data on farm.

For more information on the Genesmith artificial intelligence technology

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