HomeDrone technology makes mustering easy in North Otago

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DAISY HUDSON

A North Otago couple have taken to the skies with a revolutionary new method of herding stock on their Kurow farm.

Janina and Justin Slee are using a drone to muster hard-to-reach cattle on their property near Mount Domett, and the technology has revolutionised the way they operate their farm.

After hearing about the drone at a show in Wanaka about six months ago, the couple decided to bite the bullet and try the technology on their own farm.

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JOHN BISSET/FAIRFAX NZ

A North Otago farming couple have been using a drone to help with the muster.The move paid off, and Janina is full of praise for the high-tech tool.

“It’s amazing, it musters a whole hillside in a matter of two minutes,” she said.”It’s just so easy, so quick.”One particular part of the farm used to take up to 45 minutes to muster, but with the drone it took just five minutes, she said.

On one section of the station there was dense scrub.When the cattle hid in the scrub, they were almost impossible to see, Slee said.However, being able to take an eagle-eye view of the hill with the drone made tracking down the cattle much easier, she said.

Part of its effectiveness was the effect it had on the cattle.”There were some clever old Hereford girls that hid in the scrub, but they’re terrified of it,” she said.The drone could muster the cattle quickly without them branching off into groups, which they often did when working dogs were used.At about $1800, the drone was also proving to be a savvy financial decision.

“It’s cheap as chips. You go and buy a really good working dog, they’re $2500 and then you’ve still gotta feed it.”The couple had been concerned about being able to work the technology, she said.However, they found it was easy to use.