Drones are making ranching a lot more efficient

Posted at 6:04 AM, May 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-03 07:04:07-04

Whether on foot, four-wheeler, or horseback, ranchers spend valuable hours monitoring their herds.

But with unmanned aerial vehicles or drones, ranchers are working smarter, not harder, when it comes to managing their cattle.

Ranchers and farmers in South Texas are using drones which are now a necessary tool to the future of ranching. 

Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Center agent Dr. Megan Clayton says the unmanned aircraft system provides a valuable tool for ranchers to manage their fields and livestock.

“Drones are making ranching a lot more efficient. We can use drones to fly out and evaluate livestock, fencing, watering sites, and even monitor our forge, the quality and the quantity of forge we have for livestock, which will help us know when to move them from one pasture to the next,” said Extension Range Specialist Dr. Clayton.

Tech-savvy livestock farmers have embraced technology that allows their businesses to be more efficient, economical and environmentally friendly. 

“They can do a lot from their truck instead of having to walk all over a pasture. But more importantly, we are developing more and more software and apps and useful techniques that they can use to help really make things better for them for their management decisions,” said Dr. Clayton.

Drones with more complex sensors can collect and analyze data rather than simply spitting out images or video.

“When we are monitoring cattle, we are really looking for not only herd health as far as the actions of the cattle, and if they look like they are in good condition, but we can also monitor their reproduction. We can assess the health of the babies without having to get close to that herd. We can still keep our distance and gather a lot of information without having to actually approach that herd,” said Dr. Clayton.

The goal for the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Center is to help ranchers better their profits and improve efficiency with their livestock and their ranching purposes. 

Dr. Clayton says it is also important to remember there are rules behind using drones for commercial use which would include a landowner who has a cattle operation. You can still fly free, with no license needed as a hobby, but when you turn into a cattle operation, we are talking commercial,  and you need at least a part 107 small UAV pilot’s license from the FAA.