This idea comes to us from the Beef Cattle Research Council of Canada. They’re sharing ideas from producers about how they improve the efficiency of their operations.
Travis Peardon of Outlook, Saskatchewan likes to keep an eye on summer and winter watering systems as well as farmyard activities even when he might be some distance from home.
The southern Saskatchewan beef producer, who farms with family members near Outlook uses two camera systems to help him monitor and manage cattle helping him to maintain the beef herd and also saves time and reduces stress.
One camera system is used to monitor remote watering systems on summer pasture and winter feeding areas. The camera either confirms water is available to his 250 head cowherd, or can alert him to a supply problem.
“Actually I got the idea from colleague Alicia Sopatyk, (Saskatchewan Agriculture livestock and feed extension specialist at Tisdale) who had tested the camera idea through the ADOPT program,” says Peardon, who himself is also a provincial livestock specialist at Outlook. (ADOPT is an acronym for Ag Demonstration of Practices and Technologies program.)
With their cattle wintered on a site about a half-mile from the farm headquarters, Peardon, for the winter of 2018/19, installed a game camera over the winter watering system. The winter-feeding site has a dugout with water transferred into a wet well and then pumped into a heated water bowl. He has electricity available from nearby irrigation systems to provide power to the watering system, although it can be hooked up to solar power as well.
The $350 game camera is mounted on a post above the water bowl and is programmed to capture three photos per day and transfer those photos to Peardon’s cell phone. ”You can set up the camera system to be motion activated or just program the camera to take photos at different times of the day,” he says. The game camera system provides 100 free photos per month. A fee is charged for any photos over the 100 limit.
“We know when our cattle usually head to the waterer so we have the camera programmed to send three photos daily at 10, 11 a.m. and 12 noon,” he says. “It’s a good clear picture of the bowl, so if we can see water in the bowl we know it is working.”
Similarly, they can move the camera to a solar powered watering system used on pasture in the summer.
“Before we had the camera we would need to check the watering systems every day,” he says. “This way we can regularly monitor the waterers and know they are working. You don’t want your cattle to run out of water at anytime, but particularly on a hot day in the summer water needs to be available.”
The game camera photos are transmitted to both Peardon’s cell phone as well as to his father’s cell phone. “That way we can both keep an eye on the watering system and check if there appears to be a problem,” he says.
“It saves time, it provides peace of mind being able to see the waterers are working, and also from a production standpoint you don’t want cattle running out of water,” he says.
Another calving camera system in the farmyard is also a useful tool, says Peardon. It can be monitored form his cell phone or portable tablet.
“The calving camera helps you monitor cattle that are about to calve in the yard,” he says. “You can scan over a group of cows and zoom in on a particular animal for a closer look. You can also zoom in on the waterer in the pen to make sure it is working. And I can also scan most of the farmyard to make sure everything is in order there.”
If you’re interested in trying this game camera idea at your place, I looked up a few cameras and included them in this idea list. Any purchase made from these links goes to support keeping On Pasture online. Thanks!