Cattle ranching has seen a significant technological advancement at Blackbeard’s Ranch in Manatee County, Florida. Owner Jim Strickland has introduced GPS tracking and invisible fence systems to manage the cattle on his ranch. Through a computer screen, Strickland can monitor and adjust the fences, covering thousands of acres, using his iPad while on horseback in the pasture.
The invisible fence system provides an audible alert to the cows when they approach the fence, and a slight shock similar to a dog fence is delivered if necessary. Just like dogs, the cows learn to stay on the right side of the fence, ensuring their safety and containment. The cows wear devices with GPS tracking capabilities around their necks, allowing for precise monitoring and control of their movements. The audible alerts and shocks are transmitted through cellular technology.
On top of benefiting the ranch’s operations, this technology also has broader implications in terms of science and environmental conservation. Strickland collaborated with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fund the $65,000 pilot project, which could protect natural resources. By drawing virtual boundaries around wetlands, uplands, creeks, or other pastures, Strickland can prevent the cows from grazing in those areas, preserving wildlife habitats and avoiding damage.
The University of Florida is also planning climate studies that incorporate the movements of cattle into their research. Strickland believes that agriculture can provide valuable insights into future atmospheric conditions, further highlighting the potential significance of this innovative technology.
While the cost of implementing this system may still be prohibitive for widespread use, Blackbeard’s Ranch serves as a glimpse into a possible future where connected cows and advanced technology contribute to both the well-being of the ranch and the planet.