Ranchers using drones to keep cattle healthy


LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ)- Each year, millions of cows in the United States die from health problems and it’s costing the cattle industry, but “eyes in the sky” could help ranchers solve the problem.

Joshua Jackson flies a drone to help monitor a herd of cattle from high above his Central Kentucky ranch.

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“There’s a lot of potential for using drones on the farm and it covers a lot more ground than we ever could,” Jackson said.

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, also known as stem, is benefiting cattle farmers. They’re using technology, like drones.

“We can actually use this for monitoring animals, but for health wise, we can look for pink eye. We can look for volume in the field,” Jackson said.

He is both a cattle producer and agriculture professor, at the University of Kentucky. He is doing an experiment to see if drones cause adverse effects or stresses on cattle.

“So what we do, from a physiological stand point, we are looking at the heart rate. Is there a change in heart rate? Do they see the drone. Are they freighted? Do they have an elevated heart rate? And behavior, we actually put a GPS on the cows. We measure how much do they run or do they run from a drone?”

Here’s what he found.

“They actually became acclimated, even from the first week on, to having a presence of a drone…we haven’t seen a dramatic change in either behavior or heart rate,” Jackson said.

He is even exploring the benefits of using more than one drone.

“Using multiple drones, multiple pictures, and angles, stitch that together, create a 3D model, and use that to estimate the weight win the field, without ever running them across the scale,” Jackson explained.

Bottom line, the “t” in stem, technology, continues to help farmers improve productivity.

If you are interested in using a drone, there are regulations you will need to follow. You can learn more about those regulations at faa.gov.

Once there, click on drones/unmanned aircraft systems.

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Who is Jason Lindsey? Jason Lindsey, aka "Mr. Science," is a nationally-recognized STEM educator, meteorologist, and author. He is an award-winning meteorologist and holds the National Weather Association broadcast “seal of approval.” For more than 23 years Jason has worked as a chief meteorologist, freelance meteorologist, multimedia science journalist, and web content manager at television stations across America. Jason has appeared on the NBC Today Show, Fox & Friends, RFD-TV, WeatherNation, and television stations, across the United States, getting America “Hooked on Science.” He visits hundreds of schools each year inspiring kids to be inquisitive about the world around them and to develop a long-term interest in science and math. Jason's school programs are the first, nationally, to earn Sensory Inclusive™ Certification, which means his school programs are certified for kids with autism and other sensory needs. Lindsey has designed hands-on science curriculum and interactive media for Veggie Tales, Raddish Kids, Hefty, the Ministry of Education in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Missouri Department of Transportation, the Southern Illinois Miners, and more. On October 3, 2007 Jason organized "Science Day." At "Science Day," Lindsey along with hundreds of others launched more than 1000 “Mentos and soda fountains,” breaking the previous world record of more than 800, launched in the Netherlands. Jason and his wife, Lena Lindsey, have been married for more than 20 years. They keep busy with their four kids Conner, Ethan, Brynna, and Madigan.