Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Cattle ranches experiment with drones to keep track of animals

Border collies could one day be phased out of a job on cattle ranches across Alberta and B.C. and replaced by a high-tech alternative — drones. "It was about two-and-a-half years ago I saw some kids playing with a toy drone and I realized they had a camera on that drone and I thought to myself, 'we could use this to observe cattle in pastures,'" John Church, the cattle research chair at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, B.C. told The Homestretch. "We can see the video feedback in real time, so for me, I thought, 'wow, if we wanted to inspect cattle or look over that ridge or look in that grove of trees, we can use these drones to extend our vision." Ranches around Kamloops as well as parts of the Okanagan and aund Golden have been using drones for the past few years, a practise now making its way into Alberta. Second-year TRU student Clay Harsany has spent the summer flying the drones for a feeot operation near his hometown of High River. "Counting cattle in feed yards is a very [tedious] job. On average it takes two to three hours… and you have to do it every morning," he said. "So we came up with the idea, why can't we take a drone and place it 80 to 100 metres in the air and take pictures of each individual pen and then relay that information back to the computer and see if we can find a software company that will count the cattle automatically." That's exactly what they did. "It takes a two- to three-hour job and turns it into a two-minute job," said Harsany. It also makes finding cattle easier....more

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