February 11, 2020
University of Kentucky study uses drones to monitor cattle
University of Kentucky researchers are studying the use of drones as a way to lower cattle mortality rate due to health-related issues, reported the Richmond Register.
The non-invasive cattle health monitoring study is supported by a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant and led by Jesse Hoagg, professor of mechanical engineering.
Hoagg said the project is focused on lowering cattle loss. The system combines robotics, control systems, computer science, agricultural engineering and livestock systems – providing farmers the ability to monitor each cattle's location and health remotely. In turn, the farmers can address any health or safety issues faster.
Brandon Sears, a Madison County Extension Office agent, said the drones will be able to detect cattle's body temperature, with plans in the pipeline to add facial recognition features to identify individual cattle.
Sears said the biggest problem in cattle production is that the livestock may not be in the barn area or handling facility, but out in the field. Farmers will immediately know where their cattle are using this system.
Sears added that future developments may also include using drones as a way to herd cattle much like a herd dog with sheep.
Research at the University of Kentucky aims to make sure the drones do not affect the cattle adversely. Trials are currently conducted at the C. Oran Little Research Centre in Versailles, Kentucky, with cattle heart rate results indicating that the cattle are unaffected by the drones, said Gabriel Abdulai, a doctoral student in biosystems and agricultural engineering.
Abdulai said this is important, as cattle that are stressed will graze less and become hard to manage. This in turn, affects the cattle's weight gain and operations.
He added that drones are currently used to monitor crops in parts of west Kentucky and believes that younger tech savvy farmers will be inclined to adopt drone technology. However, it must to be affordable.
Hoagg hopes that that the drone technology will be commercialised and used to boost productivity for small cattle producers. The project study will continue through February 2021.
- Richmond Register