Down To Earth: How You Can Use Drones for Cattle Farming
Down To Earth: How You Can Use Drones for Cattle Farming

How You Can Use Drones
for Cattle Farming

CAITLIN MADDOCK-BAHR | Social Media & Digital Strategy Manager

Once the hottest new Christmas gift, drones have come a long way since their introduction and many businesses are now finding them useful for a variety of jobs. We talked to Cat® customer Jason Floyd of Five Rivers Cattle Feeding to learn how he and his team are using drones for cattle farming and got his tips for getting started with drone technology.

Drone Uses on Cattle Farms

Jason’s team has found plenty of ways to use drones for cattle farming since they added them to their operations and have more uses they want to explore in the future:

  • Counting cattle – Using a drone, they can now count cattle in about 2 hours from start to finish using just one person. They build a flight plan, fly the drone around the farm and in less than 10 minutes have their count. They then send that data to the drone management company they work with and have the headcount back in less than an hour.
  • Silage pit measurements – They’ve used a drone to measure the volume of a silage pit and calculate the inventory of the silage in that pit.
  • Feed yard improvements – The drone has also helped them create a topographical map of their feed yard pen surface, which they’ve used to find drainage and do dirtwork when building improved pens.
  • Feed alley checks – With a more advanced drone and mapping system, they want to explore teaching a camera to read bunks and check for feed in feed alleys.

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Advantages of Drones for Cattle Farming

The biggest advantages Jason and his team have found with using drones for cattle farming are improved efficiency and less manpower needed on certain tasks.

“In the past, counting cattle required 4-6 people and probably 15-20 hours a week,” he says. “Now we can do it in much less time.”

It’s also helped them more quickly identify problems in the pens. Before, they’d have to manually check each pen to determine where the problem was and then address it. By using drones, they’re able to see the pen with a discrepancy right away and focus their attention there from the start.

What to Look for in a Cattle Farm Drone

Jason works with a third-party company that supplied the drone and monitoring software, but if you’re getting started on your own, here are a few things to consider when it comes to the type of drone you need:

  • Flying range and battery life – Depending on the size of your property, you’ll likely need a drone that can fly long distances with a long battery life.
  • Camera pixel quality – If you’re using the drones to count something small, they’ll need to be able to take high-quality photos.
  • Power – If your farm is in a windy area, you need to account for enough power to fly against prevailing winds.

If you’re ready to start using drones on your cattle farm, Jason has some final advice.

“Just start playing with it and see how it works. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to get the hang of!”

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Caitlin Maddock-Bahr

Caitlin Maddock-Bahr

Social Media & Digital Strategy Manager

Caitlin Maddock-Bahr exercises her storytelling expertise as a social media & digital strategy manager. In this role, she not only helps Caterpillar connect with their audience, but helps customers connect with the brand.





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