Design and testing of a GPS/GSM collar prototype to combat cattle rustling
AbstractRustling is an age-old practice that was widespread in Italy until the first half of the 20th century. Today, incidents of cattle rustling are again being reported. However, the problem is not only found in Italy. It is also becoming a plague for ranchers in the US and is still rampant in East Africa. In Italy, the cattle rustling phenomena have usually been limited through the direct control of the herdsmen. Global positioning system (GPS) and geographic information system (GIS) combined technologies are increasingly applied for tracking and monitoring livestock with greater spatial and temporal resolution. However, so far, no case studies of the use of GPS technology to combat cattle rustling have been reported in the literature. The aim of this research was to develop a GPS/GSM (global system for mobile communication) collar, using commercial hardware and implementing a specific software [ARVAshepherd 1.0; ARVAtec Srl, Rescaldina (MI), Italy] to track animalsâ€™ movements outside their grazing area and to signal when animals are straying outside virtual perimeters. A phase I study was conducted from January to June 2011 to build the GPS/GSM collar and to assess its performances in terms of GPS accuracy and precision, while a phase II study was conducted in July 2011 to test the GPS collar under real-life operating conditions. The static GPS positioning error achieved a circular error probable (50%) and horizontal 95% accuracy of 1.462 m and 4.501 m, respectively. This is comparable with values obtained by other authors in static tests of a commercial GPS collar for grazing studies. In field tests, the system was able to identify the incorrect position of the cattle and the warning messages were sent promptly to the farmer, continuing until the animals had been repositioned inside the fence, thus highlighting the potential of the GPS/GSM collar as an anti-theft system.
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