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Drones becoming a common tool to herd farm animals

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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 by the Otago Daily Times 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 (if you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out the classic 90’s movie featuring a talking pig, Babe).

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.

Farmers will try to use their drone to round up the sheep as quickly as possible. To see what this looks like in reality, check out this video:

You’ll note that the drones stay in a group and run away from the noise of the Phantom.

While we are pretty sure sheepdog trials aren’t going to hold much interest for most of our readers, it’s interesting to note that drones are slowing taking over parts of the job that was once exclusively the domain of animals.

Some sheepdog trials are now allowing new categories in which drones round up sheep.

To check out other drone and animal stories:

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