Virtual-fencing for Tasmanian dairy farms

Virtual-fencing: A game changer for pasture-based livestock systems

Degree type


Closing date

25 September 2023



Citizenship requirement

Domestic / International

About the research project

Tasmania’s pasture-based dairy and beef sectors continue to intensify. This means cattle are being managed in fewer but larger herds. The state has the largest dairy herd sizes in Australia. Recruitment and retention of labour is one of the biggest challenges faced by the livestock industries. Over 84% of Tasmanian dairy farmers have reported difficulty recruiting staff, and ≥70% difficulty in retaining staff. To be sustainable, the growth of intensified pasture systems requires careful management of the resource base, including the people, environment, and animals involved.

Virtual-fencing (VF) is a disruptive technology, a game-changer, that can help mitigate the risks of intensified pastoral dairy production while improving farming productivity and profitability. The technology manages grazing cattle behind a ‘virtual boundary’ that has been set via GPS by using audio and electrical cues, rather than physical fencing. Potential uses of VF include movement of cows to and from the dairy, precise and automated grazing allocations, temporary or permanent exclusion of cattle from specific locations, and management of several mobs of cattle. These applications can contribute positively to the sustainability and profitability of the dairy industry by (1) reducing labour, (2) attracting and retaining future farming leaders, (3) improving cow health through better controlled pasture-based nutrition, (4) enhancing animal productivity and efficiencies by controlling livestock movement at a sub-herd level, (5) optimising the quantity and quality of homegrown feed-base without increased inputs (e.g., fertiliser), and (6) contributing to environment stewardship through the exclusion of cows from waterways.

This project will explore the value proposition of virtual-fencing technology in commercial settings as well as in the controlled research environment at TIA’s Dairy Research Facility (TDRF). The successful applicant will become part of a world-leading research team in terms of the application of virtual-fencing to intensive grazing systems and study a cutting edge technology. By doing so they will contribute to the development of sustainable livestock systems in Tasmania and abroad.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Megan Verdon


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $31,500 per annum (2023 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.

Other funding opportunities and fees

For further information regarding other scholarships on offer, and the various fees of undertaking a research degree, please visit our Scholarships and fees on research degrees page.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Ensure your eligibility for the scholarship round by referring to our Key Dates.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applicants will need a valid Australian drivers license as this project will involve some intrastate travel
  • Applicants will need to be able to work from the TIA Dairy Research Facility in Burnie for up to up 2-months of the year, while conducting their research

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Post-graduate qualification or relevant experience in a field related to livestock agriculture, preferably animal production, behaviour or welfare.
  • Excellent interpersonal communication skills and written communication skills
  • Attention to detail

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Research experience and/or experience in the Tasmanian dairy industry

Application process

  1. Select your project, and check that you meet the eligibility and selection criteria, including citizenship;
  2. Contact Dr Megan Verdon to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. In your application:
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • Submit a signed supervisory support form, a CV including contact details of 2 referees and your project research proposal.
  4. Apply prior to 25 September 2023.

Full details of the application process can be found under the 'How to apply' section of the Research Degrees website.

Following the closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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