Farms & Farm Machinery

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Sheep are less stressed and easier to move when being shepherded by drone than by traditiona­l means, according to a recent study

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Using drones instead of traditiona­l methods to herd sheep could have health benefits for the animals involved, a new study has claimed.

The study, conducted by UNSW Canberra and published by Scientific Reports, says that drones are not only an effective herding tool, but drones that emit certain sounds actually reduce stress in sheep.

“What we found through this study is that the sheep had higher heart rates when they’re being shepherded by traditiona­l means,” one of the lead researcher­s on the study Kate Yaxley says.

“The simple act of moving them to another paddock for food is actually putting the animal under stress.

“We measured the variations in their heart rates and we found it to be much lower when using unmanned aerial vehicles with appropriat­e approach speed and that the animals actually responded to the technology.

“If we played certain sounds that allowed them to use their sensors, their aural and visual acuity, they moved a lot easier.

“This is part of our research that is continuing at the moment. In addition to this, we’re focusing on the frequency of the sounds emitted as opposed to trying to emit a particular sound.”

Yaxley, a visiting military fellow at UNSW Canberra, says the use of drones on farms was not a new concept but believes there has been no understand­ing of how sheep interact with technology and the impact on their welfare.

She hopes the research will lead to human and artificial intelligen­ce working together on farms to help improve the welfare of animals.

 ??  ?? Left: New research shows that using a drone to shepherd sheep can be a less stressful experience for the animals
Left: New research shows that using a drone to shepherd sheep can be a less stressful experience for the animals

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