A new innovation from CSIRO and the NSW DPI could hold the key to better understanding feed efficiency in livestock.
Still in research stage, eGrazor is a tough, hi-tech, solar-powered smart collar system with sensors and radio for real-time data recovery.
It accurately classifies the behaviour of individual cattle such as grazing, walking, resting and ruminating to quantify the amount of food consumed.
When combined with weight gain records, eGrazor can be used to determine the efficiency of each animal.
The product has caught the attention of Angus Australia's strategic projects manager Christian Duff who said getting a better handle on the feeding conversion ability of cattle, particularly on pasture, was the 'holy grail' because feed was a big cost to all producers.
"But it's one area that we don't have much information on at all," he said.
It's one area that we don't have much information on at all.
"In years like this, where it's very dry it's easy to see that some cattle cope better than others.
"To be able to identify the most efficient animals and for producers to be able to preference these to breed the next generation will really help improve Australian breeds and maintain our high standards in producing quality beef that meets consumer demands."
Mr Duff said given the massive number of animals across the planet, it was easy to see how small improvements in feed efficiency could have large cumulative benefits in terms of growing industry productivity and also reducing associated greenhouse gas emissions intensity.
Feeding efficiency - how well an animal can convert the feed they eat into meat, wool, milk or babies - has traditionally been a difficult area for agricultural scientists to master.
The old adage that if you can't measure it you can't improve it certainly comes into play.
It's a difficult and time consuming process to measure feed intake of individual livestock, especially in a grazing environment.
Until now, this has prevented the measurement of efficiency at a scale easily used for breed improvement.