December 12, 2019

Drones As Cowboys


In yet another innovative use for drones (Remote Pilot-Operated System, or RPAS, in Transport Canada terminology), they are now being promoted as surrogate cowboys in the management of cattle in Alberta.

Earlier this year a two-day course was held in Lacombe, Alberta attended by a group of livestock producers. The class was taught by LandView Drones of Edmonton. Certification as a drone operator was available for those who passed the appropriate Transport Canada exam after completing the course.

Of note was the inclusion of a guest speaker and advocate for drone usage in livestock operations. Associate Professor Dr. John Church is the Cattle Research Chair in the Faculty of Science at Thompson River University in Kamloops, British Columbia. Dr. Church told the class of the many ways that drones can be used in the management of cattle.

Examples of the many tasks that can be easily accomplished with drones include finding where cattle are, herding cattle, identifying specific cattle by zooming in with the drone’s camera to check ear tag numbers, check cattle health by using thermal imaging cameras to check the cattle’s body temperature, check on remote watering systems. The list goes on.

According to LandView, the price range for drones that are equipped to do such a job range from $3,000 to $5,000. This is well below the seasonal cost of employing a cowboy or cowhand to accomplish just one or two of the tasks mentioned above.

Photo by Filip Bunkens of unsplash