Cape Agriculture Drones on Cattle Ranches Save Time and Money
By: Ryland Stampfel
Owners of cattle ranches are always looking for ways to save money and time on their ranch. In order to do this, many ranch owners hire a lot of employees to do the everyday maintenance and inspections the ranch requires. If a rancher can’t afford to hire more employees, they do a lot of these jobs themselves which consumes a great deal of their time. During an average workday, basic farm and ranch inspections can take up to half a day. During some seasons, spring and summer mostly, inspections require a full day to complete. These inspections include checking the condition of the cattle, water sources, feeding tubs, fences and many more. Some larger ranches use helicopters to perform inspections, but helicopters are expensive to operate and license. The use of drones in agriculture, with live stream capabilities, can help save time and money.
Cape can help these ranchers inspect their product smarter and faster. Giving owners as well as employees access to real time aerial footage of what they need to inspect without having to drive out to a location can save valuable hours. These days, the success of a ranch can be measured by how much work is done on the ranch itself and off the ranch on the business side. This varies depending on the ranch but either way, much of the success is dependant on what happens off the ranch. Saving time can allow the owners and employees to focus their efforts off the ranch on aspects of the business.
With Cape’s Aerial Telepresence™ drone software solution, all that is needed is a person in the field setting up the drone (typically a field worker) and a person on a computer (typically the owner or cattler expert) controlling it. With the person on the field accessing the Cape Operator app via a wireless internet connection and the expert on the computer back at the office, the office team and other remote employees can survey ranch operations with Cape’s software. Safety for both the drone and the operator is very important so special precautions are conducted. In the Cape Operator app, the owner or the employees can make a virtual geofence which allows the the creation of boundaries and elevation limits. The software even has the ability to avoid obstacles. When the battery is about to run out of power, the drone will automatically return home safely. This way, the operator can put their full focus on the inspections.
Checking Water Sources
Cattle can drink up to 30 gallons of water per day depending on the type of species and time of year. During the summer, they will drink much more. It is crucial to keep a constant flow in all the water sources as one day without water will make a cow or bull fall behind in their needed weight gain. These sources include streams, lakes, water tanks, and rivers. Rivers and lakes aren’t a problem but streams can dry up and tanks stop working. Tanks can receive water from natural springs or pumps run by windmills or solar panels. If a pasture runs out of water, the animals are greatly affected. Usually ranchers will inspect the water sources at least once every couple days on natural spring fed tanks and every day if the tank receives its water by a pump run by a windmill or solar panels. Depending on the location, ranchers will use pickups, side-by-sides, four-wheelers or helicopters to go out and check the water sources. This can take several hours to complete the inspection in this manner. With drone inspection, these water sources can be inspected daily much quicker. Using a drone for inspection cuts the time down to around an hour or less per pasture depending on its size. Each pasture may require a different take off point based on size. One person could move from the start of one pasture to the start of the next and the expert on the computer could take off and complete the necessary inspections. After the drone is setup, then an expert in an office can control the drone and inspect the windmill, solar panel or anything that needs inspection on a daily basis.
As the expert is inspecting water sources, they can also inspect other things such as open top salt and mineral tubs, gates, or the cow that has recently been doctored for a bad foot. The zoom and the maneuverability that Cape provides allows the operator to perform the inspections remotely just using a reliable wireless connection.
Checking the Condition of Cattle
Cattle become sick or get hurt quite often throughout any part of the year and they constantly need to be doctored for the illness or injury. After doctoring the specific animal, they are sent back to the field to continue grazing. These cattle need to be checked for the next few days to make sure nothing else happens to the animal or if they need to be brought back for additional doctoring. Driving out to inspect the injured or sick cattle takes fuel and valuable time away from the employee. Because of this, these sick or injured cattle are not monitored as closely as they should be. In many cases, the cattle become worse and a lot of money is lost. Using drones with Cape’s Aerial Telepresence™ drone software solves this problem. An employee can set up a drone on the edge of a pasture and the owner or expert can fly the drone and inspect the cattle that were sick or injured. This way the person with the most experience can determine if the cattle are healing or if they need to be doctored again.
Cape can save ranchers significant amounts of money and time with inspections. They can be done quickly with a more experienced eye. Other drones with live stream capabilities take a long time to master and in some cases take longer to perform inspections. This is caused by the camera system on the drone which is often difficult to control. Cape has solved this problem with the easy to use Cape Aerial Telepresence™ drone software. Farm and ranch inspections can be done effortlessly and effectively with drone technology.