How Drones Will Revolutionize Ranching

There's no need for a cowboy to ride all day in search of a stray when a drone with an infrared camera can spot it from on high.

Drone, drone on the range? At least one American cattle ranch is turning to some 21st century tech to modernize the cowboy's job. In this video, fifth-generation cattleman J.D. Russell of the Matador Cattle Company takes us through how drones changed the way he runs Koch Industries' Spring Creek Ranch in Kansas.

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Drone technology certainly makes it easier to tend to 10,000 acres and account for 2,000 head of cattle, Russell says: “With the drones, if you have a concern about a cow, you can fly over to check it out if you have one with you. Versus having to drive 15 to 20 miles to get a horse and come back only to find the cow has moved. Then you’ve got to go track it down again, so I see a lot of potential in drones for us.”

Flying over the ranch drones could allow Russell to survey his terrain, keep track of any grass fires, and watch out for invasive species. Drones can also carry infrared cameras, which could easily identify the heat signatures of stray cows. That's certainly easier than riding around looking for them on horseback—though perhaps less poetic.

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