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How to get your farming profits moooving with Sky Muster

Ask life-long farmer Anne Sprague about managing cattle with a Sky Muster™ connection.  She’ll tell you a story of much change to farming life. 

Sky Muster™ is a lifeline for Anne and her husband. They run multiple cattle properties and lean heavily on their Internet connection for business and leisure. 

Tracking their cattle from purchase (or birth) through to sale is the easiest it’s been in generations. And it’s all possible because the Sprague family have a reliable Internet connection.


Effectively managing cattle stations with Sky Muster™

Anne lives 100km from Blackall which, with a po­­pulation of 1,416 people, is her closest major town.

In fact, she’s lived on her central western Queensland property almost all her life. In that time, she’s seen dramatic changes to Australian farming as a result of the Internet.

Naturally, it’s the availability of a reliable Internet connection making this experience positive.

And, thankfully for the Sprague family, their Sky Muster™ set-up is perfectly fit-for-purpose. Actually, it underpins almost everything that happens with the family’s cattle business.

Cattle locations and weights are tracked using Internet-based databases. And, when the time comes, they’re marketed and sold in online auctions.

Everything in this business relies on a good Internet connection.


Image source: Anne Sprague. Anne values the hard work of people on her farm but satellite Internet underpins everything they do.

[Image source: Anne Sprague. Anne values the hard work of people on her farm but satellite Internet underpins everything they do.]


How Sky Muster enables compliance with the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS)

In Australia, all cattle, sheep and goats are tracked using the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS).  This is all part of a program designed to ensure our Country’s biosecurity and food safety.

For a farm to be compliant with this system, they need to be able to:

  • tag each animal with a unique electronic identifier
  • apply a Property Identification Code (PIC) to each of their farming sites, and
  • store all the data related to animal movements in a web-accessible database.

There are a variety of technologies that farmers can use for tracking their cattle. Some people transfer data using a USB connection. Others are more high-tech and make use of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology.

RFID-based equipment obviously needs an Internet connection.

The database at the centre of the NLIS is entirely web-based. So, even people using USB connections will need the Internet at some point.

It’s a system that’s been in place since 2005 and would not be workable without the magic of the Internet.

Ultimately, if you’re an Australian cattle farmer, you can’t do business without the Internet.


Image source: Anne Sprague. This is one of her cows with a unique electronic identifier tag

[Image source: Anne Sprague. This is one of her cows with a unique electronic identifier tag]

The art of cattle business on the Sprague family farm

Cattle business on the Sprague family farm happens in a fairly standard manner. As such, they need their Internet connection to be reliable.

“Our business would be greatly disadvantaged without Sky Muster™,” says Anne.

They need to access the Internet every time they move their cattle between properties.

During the physical movement of cattle, each beast is again scanned into the NLIS database. Then they’re digitally transferred between PICS.

When the animals are sold, they’re scanned yet again. At this point, they’re removed from the Sprague family’s record on the NLIS database.

The business’ Sky Muster connection is easy and stable. It also makes it possible for rural farmers to connect to the NLIS database.

And this couldn’t be more important to farming business if it tried.

The NLIS database is key to successful cattle farming. It maintains the cattle’s lifelong traceability. And that is crucial to securing accreditation as part of Australia’s red meat food supply.


Image source: Anne Sprague. For Anne, reliable satellite Internet is as important as these pictured workers in moving her farming profits

[Image source: Anne Sprague. For Anne, reliable satellite Internet is as important as these pictured workers in moving her farming profits]

Sky Muster = Improved business efficiencies on the farm well beyond cattle movement

Monitoring the cattle’s weight is also a web-based affair.

“We mainly use our Sky Muster™ connection when we download the data from our weighing devices to create graphs and reports on our cattle’s progress,” says Anne.

They weigh their steers and heifers, collecting data to monitor their weight gain since the beast’s last weigh-in.

The data is collected on a Tru-Test Reader which is then downloaded to a laptop.

“We use this data to work out when the cattle will be ready to sell, or join to bulls,” says Anne.

“We may weigh the steers and heifers 2 – 3 times during a 12-month period. Then we create graphs to track their weight changes, depending on the season. If we notice the steers are losing weight, then we’ll sell them.

Image source: EID Weigh System, courtesy of Datamars Livestock

[Image source: EID Weigh System, courtesy of Datamars Livestock]

“Beyond tracking and weighing the cattle, we also need to access mapping programs to look at the vegetation across our property.

“We need a fast Internet connection for the maps and interactive tools to work,” she says.

“And all our banking is done online. Our accounting program is cloud-based. Our communication is done through email. We use the Internet for cattle production, and we rely on it heavily for both short and long-term weather forecasting.”


Getting connected with SkyMesh

Anne has very happily had her SkyMesh Sky Muster™ service for around a year at the time of writing this article.

She likes the faster speeds and finds it far more efficient than the 3G service they had beforehand.

They joined SkyMesh because they knew people who’d previously had a good SkyMesh experience.

“Plus, my daughter lives in Brisbane, so I love that SkyMesh have an office there,” says Anne.

“We love to support a local business.

“Whenever I need to know something from SkyMesh, or I need support, I jump straight on to the SkyMesh Facebook page and message Ben (the SkyMesh social media guru)

“Ben always gets someone on to it quick smart and I’ll get a call from a techo,” she says gladly.

“It’s only ever happened a couple of times. I’ve had no real issues at all.

“Today, everybody expects you to be online and with SkyMesh, I am.”


Which Internet plan is right for your farming business?

SkyMesh recently announced their Business Satellite Service (BSS) for rural and remote Australia.

Mitch Eyles, SkyMesh Business Development Manager, said the new business-grade plans could be the perfect connectivity solution for farmers.

“This service comes with bigger data allocations, faster speeds and tailored business SLAs,” Mitch says.

“It’s a massive bonus to farmers that nbn™ offer Business Grade Support Tiers for BSS.

“It means any faults you have are prioritised and you’ll get a nbn™ technician coming out to your site to fix the problem,” he says.

In some circumstances, the extra support from nbn™ makes BSS plans far more fit-for-purpose than regular Sky Muster or Sky Muster Plus plans.

We’ve put together a simple table showing the differences between the three available nbn™ satellite Internet products here.

However, as a starting point for choosing the right service for your business, Mitch recommends having a look at your average monthly data consumption and your long-term plans.

“If you’re operating effectively under the Sky Muster™ Fair Use Policy limit of 150GB per connection per month, you may be okay running your business from Sky Muster™,” Mitch says.

“Some farms with multiple sites will well and truly exceed that limit though. If that’s you, BSS has fleet sharing options you can consider

“If you’re looking to integrate sophisticated technology with sensors and wireless networks, for example, then perhaps BSS is the right choice for your business,” he says.

“It’s worth having a chat with our team about your specific business needs so we can put you on the right track.”

“Once we talk through the specifics of your business needs, if you need to move to BSS, we can tailor a plan designed just for you,” Mitch says.


Mitch Eyles, SkyMesh Business Development Manager

[Mitch Eyles, SkyMesh Business Development Manager]

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Louise Hughes
Written by Louise Hughes

Louise has had a life-long love affair with beautiful words; writing because it drives her, and reading because it feeds her soul. She's the luckiest woman alive to be able to create clever content and intelligent customer experiences for a living.

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