When you traditionally imagine farm animals being rounded up, you picture cowboys on horseback wrastling cattle or border collies snapping at the heels of sheep.
It’s becoming increasingly popular, however, for farmers to send drones to help round up animals, particularly on high-country farms.
New Zealand, home to 25 million sheep and more than 10 million cattle, is a country already seeing farmers adopting drones to herd stock. One Kiwi farmer interviewed said he often uses his Phantom 4 Pro to drive the stock along valleys. The noise from the drones scares the sheep or cattle into moving.
The drones are deployed for about 25 minutes at a time, the batteries are replaced and they keep going. Farmers report that the benefit of using drones is the time saving it offers. A farmer can easily see the location of their animals, without having to travel there on horseback or quadbike.
Despite the new abilities provided by drones, as the farmer said to the ODT:
”You still can’t do it without your dogs.”
New Zealand has less than 5 million people and 25 million sheep. Not surprisingly, there are more than a few national sheepdog competitions in the country.
In a sheepdog trial, a dog with the guidance of their owner will corral a group of three sheep and direct them towards a gate. The timer stops once the gate is shut. Some of these competitions are now allowing a new category: drones.
it’s interesting to note that drones are slowing taking over parts of the job that was once exclusively the domain of animals.