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Unit outline_

AGRO4006: New and Emerging Tech in Animal Science

Semester 2, 2021 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit of study is designed to provide students with an advanced understanding of new and emerging livestock technologies in Australia and overseas. Examples of these technologies include (1) next-generation infrared and laser scanning to determine physiological status and whole body composition, (2) diet formulation to enhance the nutritional and eating quality of livestock food products, (3) new vaccines and other therapeutics to regulate fertility, growth and behaviour whilst enhancing welfare and wellbeing, (4) microRNA technology to influence cellular, endocrine and physiological processes, (5) new genomics and laboratory-based reproductive technologies for advanced livestock breeding, (6) technologies to monitor and control animal behaviour, (7) unmanned ground and aerial vehicles to monitor livestock and the environment, (8) sensors and advanced image-capture technology to record the attributes of soil, air and the feedbase, (9) data-fusion science to integrate, analyse and interpret collected data, and (10) modelling of livestock systems. Students will gain research and inquiry skills through research based group projects, information literacy and communication skills through on-line discussion postings, laboratory reports and presentations, and personal and intellectual autonomy through working in groups. At successful completion of the unit students will have a sound knowledge of new and emerging technologies that will shape the livestock industries in Australia and overseas. This will provide valuable grounding for students preparing for postgraduate study and other learning and career paths.

Unit details and rules

Academic unit Life and Environmental Sciences Academic Operations
Credit points 6
48cp of 1000-3000 level units including at least 6cp of BIOL1XXX
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Luciano Gonzalez,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Practical report 2 - Animal behaviour
Practical report
10% Mid-semester break
Due date: 27 Sep 2021 at 23:59

Closing date: 04 Oct 2021
1000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO5 LO15 LO13
Assignment Start-up booklet submission
Final assignment booklet
Due date: 19 Nov 2021 at 23:59

Closing date: 26 Nov 2021
3000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12 LO13 LO14
Assignment Practical report 1 – Weighing systems and model data fusion
Practical report
10% Week 04
Due date: 30 Aug 2021 at 23:59

Closing date: 06 Sep 2021
1000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO13 LO15
Assignment Short video proposal start-up or technical booklet
Video proposal
10% Week 08
Due date: 07 Oct 2021 at 23:59

Closing date: 14 Oct 2021
5 min
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO13 LO14
Assignment Practical report 3 - Environmetn + Remote sensing
Practical report
10% Week 11
Due date: 25 Oct 2021 at 23:59

Closing date: 01 Nov 2021
1000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO6 LO15 LO13 LO8 LO7
Presentation group assignment Assignment presentation
Presentation of the final start-up or technical information booklet
10% Week 12 3 min/group member to present + 0.5 m pe
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12 LO13 LO14
Assignment Practical report 4 - Dairy technologies
Practical report
10% Week 13
Due date: 08 Nov 2021 at 23:59

Closing date: 15 Nov 2021
1000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO9 LO15 LO13 LO11
group assignment = group assignment ?

Assessment summary

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Tutorial/Apps practical Online class (3 hr) LO1 LO13 LO14
Week 02 Body monitoring of animals Online class (2.5 hr) LO2 LO3
Remote weighing practical Practical (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO15
Week 03 Precision feeding and model-data fusion Online class (2.5 hr) LO3 LO15
Model-data fusion practical Online class (3 hr) LO3 LO13 LO15
Week 04 Physiological monitoring of animals Lecture (2.5 hr) LO4
IRT image analysis Practical (3 hr) LO4 LO13 LO15
Week 05 Practical beef cattle and sheep (replacing field day online) Practical (5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO9 LO10
Week 06 Animal behaviour 1 Lecture (2.5 hr) LO5
Animal behaviour 1 practical Practical (3 hr) LO5 LO13 LO15
Week 07 Animal behaviour 2 Online class (2.5 hr) LO5
Animal behaviour practical 2 Online class (3 hr) LO5
Week 08 Precision agriculture Lecture (2.5 hr) LO8
Precision ag practical Computer laboratory (3 hr) LO8 LO13 LO15
Week 09 Environment Practical (3 hr) LO7 LO13 LO15
Environmental monitoring Lecture (2.5 hr) LO7
Week 10 Remote sensing Lecture (2.5 hr) LO6
Remote sensing practical Practical (3 hr) LO6 LO13 LO15
Week 11 Technology to improve animal health and welfare Lecture (2.5 hr) LO9
Welfare Data analysis Practical (3 hr) LO9 LO13 LO15
Week 12 On-farm automation of repetitive tasks Lecture (2.5 hr) LO11
Dairy robotics practical Practical (3 hr) LO11 LO12 LO13 LO15
Week 13 Final presentations start-up or technical booklet Lecture and tutorial (5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12 LO13 LO14

Attendance and class requirements

Attendance is expected for all lectures and practicals

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

Prescribed reading will be made available in Canvas

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. describe the principles of using new technologies and approaches for precision animal management. Outline definitions, concepts and approaches around remote sensing, monitoring and automated management systems
  • LO2. list and explain the technologies used to monitor the physical body of animals, their uses and applications including live weight, body composition and size, and animal identification
  • LO3. present the concepts of using and combining new technologies into frameworks to develop new feeding systems in animal production and to manage animal nutrition using automatic control feeding systems, animal performance data and models
  • LO4. outline technologies to measure physiological conditions of animals including body temperature, heart rate, blood and rumen liquid composition, and electrophysiology (EEG, ECG, photoplethysmography, etc)
  • LO5. describe the use of new technologies to monitor animal behaviour and the role these technologies can play to improve animal conservation, productivity, sustainability and welfare
  • LO6. explain main principles of remote sensing for vegetation monitoring and landscape condition assessment, list and calculate relevant measures and indicators using remote sensing technologies and give examples of practical applications in animal management and landscape assessment
  • LO7. overview technologies to measure a range of characteristics in soil, water and the biophysical environment relevant to livestock production and wildlife including chemical composition (gases, nutrients, and pollutants), physical characteristics (moisture, water levels, temperature, conductivity, reflectance, etc.), weather forecasts, and models
  • LO8. present principles and concepts of precision agriculture applied to crops and pasture production, vegetation monitoring, and landscape condition assessment. Understand the different Global Navigation Satellite Systems and their applications in animal sciences
  • LO9. demonstrate methods used for early diagnosis and treatment of health and welfare issues of animals using new technologies with particular emphasis on the dairy industry
  • LO10. describe concepts and examples of machine vision and automatic video image analysis, and its application in agriculture, animal production and wildlife management
  • LO11. introduce technologies for the automation of repetitive tasks in the dairy industry including milking robots, herding and monitoring robots, and automated animal management. Assess the potential of technologies to save time and money, and improve animal management
  • LO12. define robots and describe the principles of robotics and the latest developments for applications in agriculture and animal science.
  • LO13. communicate in ways that are effective, appropriate and persuasive for farming and scientific audiences, and collaborate effectively.
  • LO14. work in groups to solve problems and contribute to class discussions.
  • LO15. Work individually to prepare and present a report, presentation or debate on a topic in class.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

Changes are adaptations to the new COVID conditions, all online.

Q fever requirements only for field classes if possible due to COVID

Site visit guidelines

Attendance to lectures, parcticals and field days will depend on COVID restrictions

Work, health and safety

Q-fever vaccination and completion of the Canvas module “Zoonosis Awareness” is compulsory.

We are governed by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 and Codes of Practice. Penalties for non-compliance have increased. Everyone has a responsibility for health and safety at work. The University’s Work Health and Safety policy explains the responsibilities and expectations of workers and others, and the procedures for managing WHS risks associated with University activities.

General Laboratory Safety Rules

  • No eating or drinking is allowed in any laboratory under any circumstances
  • A laboratory coat and closed-toe shoes are mandatory
  • Follow safety instructions in your manual and posted in laboratories
  • In case of fire, follow instructions posted outside the laboratory door
  • First aid kits, eye wash and fire extinguishers are located in or immediately outside each laboratory
  • As a precautionary measure, it is recommended that you have a current tetanus immunisation. This can be obtained from University Health Service:


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.