In the United States alone, death loss of cattle and calves cost farmers nearly $3.9 billion in 2015, according to a 2017 study conducted by the USDA.In the United States alone, death loss of cattle and calves cost farmers nearly $3.9 billion in 2015, according to a 2017 study conducted by the USDA. The study found that the overwhelming majority (98 percent) of these deaths were non-predator related. Instead, these deaths were health related (e.g., respiratory problems, old age, calving-related problems and digestive issues). Being able to monitor livestock with surveillance cameras could help alert farmers to health problems before they become life threatening; it could also help them save both time and money.
Farmers want more than to just monitor their animals from afar; they also want to save time and money while also increasing control and safety of the animals. Using a camera surveillance system can help them achieve this.
The investment in cameras for a farm is absolutely worthwhile, according to Johan Didron, Marketing Manager at Luda.Farm, a Sweden-based smart farm
company. “When you buy a farm cam you invest in the safety of your animals meanwhile reducing your costs. With a farm cam you can also monitor unauthorized activity on the farm, such as at the diesel tank,” he added.
The ability to monitor livestock anytime, anywhere is another reason to invest in a camera system. “In most cases, farmers are using camera systems to monitor their pregnant animals. But they also want alert notifications. Maybe they are out in the field and they want to be notified if a delivery arrives,” explained Daxton Valyear, Owner of Electroguy, a Canada-based security installer. “It is also convenient to not be tied to just one tv or monitor to view the cameras on. Being able to view the cameras on multiple devices so that others can share the responsibility of monitoring the livestock can take the stress off of just one person.”
Monitoring pregnant animals
Calving and foaling season are a busy time for farmers. For a long time farmers have spent anxious nights waiting and sleeping in barns waiting for new arrivals. However, video surveillance cameras are helping to make monitoring pregnant animals much easier.
Since complications during birthing can happen suddenly and result in the deaths of the mother and/or the calf/foal, farmers must closely monitor animals when they are near to giving birth. In fact, the USDA found that nearly 18 percent of all non-predator deaths for calves was a result of calving-related problems.
“A cow can be worth several thousands of dollars and can be a big loss if there are birth complications with the calf, the cow or both,” Valyear explained. “Horses are a whole other ball game. We had one client that has a new colt he sold for CAD$250,000. You can imagine the loss there.”
With cameras able to keep an eye out 24/7, video surveillance allows farmers to watch animals from a distance, also allowing them to act faster in the event something happens. “For example, during the calving season you can save calves and cows in time if difficult deliveries occur,” Didron said.
Valyear used the monitoring of expectant horses as an example of the benefits of video surveillance: “In many cases with horses, in the weeks leading up to the due date farmers are having to go out to the barn regularly, even throughout the night. This can be difficult especially if you have another job. With cameras you can easily check on the barn by opening the camera app on your tablet or smartphone.”
“We sold a system to the University of Minnesota. They have a farming program there and they set up two of our systems in separate farms for the students to monitor the cows especially during breeding, pregnancy and birth,” Valyear added.
Farms pose unique challenges for video surveillance installation. Due to the wet and dirty environment robust cameras are needed. Additionally, there is the possible lack of internet availability.
“Running cabling or trying to link a wireless camera from the house to the barn is not possible, and most barns do not have internet. Many barns are also several hundred feet or more than a kilometer away from the house. Standard store bought wireless camera systems will not transmit that far,” Valyear explained.
Because internet connectivity and signal strength can vary greatly, depending on the size and location of the farm, installers must find ways to get camera signals from the source of the internet (i.e., the house) to the barn when using wireless cameras.
“My system uses outdoor wireless antennas that can create a strong link between the house and the barn even over several kilometers with a good line of sight. You can even link multiple barns together and have multiple cameras in each barn,” Valyear said. “You can also combine security cameras on the house and view and record all cameras together on a single recorder. You can even view the cameras remotely over the internet. The system connects into your existing internet Wi-Fi and internet in your house.”