Tracking Livestock Guardian Dogs with the Oyster3
Lonestar Tracking and Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center – San Angelo are creating a reliable solution that can track, monitor, and protect livestock and livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) across ranches in Texas, United States, using battery-powered IoT asset tracking.
What are Livestock Guardian Dogs
Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGDs) were first introduced into the agriculture scene in the USA in the late 1970s and have since become an essential tool on ranches. LGDs are essentially used by farmers to guard a variety of livestock species against predators such as wolves, mountain lions, coyotes, bears, birds of prey, feral cats, etc. Usually, these are medium to large-sized dogs that permanently live with the livestock as ‘social companions’ and will protect them from anything that they deem as a threat.
Utilizing custom-built collars with the Oyster3, Lonestar Tracking and Texas A&M AgriLife is providing an affordable GPS tracking solution to help track and protect Livestock Guardian Dogs while allowing owners to learn more about the habits of their animals and easily locate their dogs should they get lost or wander off into places they shouldn’t be in.
Livestock Guardian Dog with its herd wearing an Oyster tracker.
The Importance of Tracking LGDs
Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGDs) are a non-lethal method of predator control and are originally from Europe. They were bred for thousands of years to be guardians of livestock by herders that traveled with livestock across vast areas to feeding grounds throughout the year. The lack of property boundaries for the dogs has led them to naturally want to roam large territories, which can be problematic for owners. On large properties, both livestock and LGDs are generally left to roam freely with minimal supervision making it hard to manually keep track of their location. It is important to know the location of Livestock Guardian Dogs should they wander off and leave the property to become lost or even stolen. Another reason to track LGDs is if they are injured and unable to protect their livestock, owners can be notified and are able to locate their dogs. Almost 50% of LGDs on working ranches are lost after 6 years due to leaving the ranch boundaries. GPS trackers can help decrease the loss of these important dogs protecting livestock from predators.
In addition, not only are Livestock Guardian Dogs expensive, but it takes a considerable amount of time and resources to train and bond them to their owners and livestock. LGDs play an important and valuable role on ranches, for one to go missing or to be injured would be a substantial loss to their owners not only in the expense of replacing the dog but also in lost production due to predation.
GPS trackers can assist ranchers by not only locating their LGDs but also locating livestock. Most LGDs rarely travel too far from their charges. By utilizing GPS trackers on their LGDs, producers can quickly locate livestock for animal husbandry practices. Producers can also utilize tracking data from their dogs to improve range management by adding additional water resources and fencing to force livestock to utilize lower-quality feed resources or to help control invasive grass and brush species. GPS trackers can also add in ranchers in predator control by monitoring the location of LGDs in fields. LGDs will regularly patrol areas of high predator density in the dog’s territory.
The Oyster3 for LGD Tracking
Featuring ultra-rugged IP67 housing, the Oyster3 can withstand the toughest conditions and is protected from any dirt, water, and bumps that might occur when installed into the collars. Using 3 x AA user-replaceable batteries, the device features up to 10+ years of battery life. Movement-based tracking allows for the devices to enter sleep mode when stationary to conserve power. Incredibly low power consumption on the Oyster3 allows owners to efficiently track Livestock Guardian Dogs without having to constantly replace batteries or repair devices if damaged.
A key factor for Lonestar Tracking when selecting a battery-powered GPS tracking device is its size. Most GPS devices in the market are large and bulky in size, making it impractical to use them for tracking Livestock Guardian Dogs without causing the dog discomfort. The robust and compact device can easily be installed into the collars and is small enough for the dogs to comfortably wear.
LGDs wearing the Oyster3 LoRaWAN GPS Tracker
Geofencing technology allows for location boundaries to be set around a property and enables real-time alerts should an LGD leave its designated area. Owners are then made aware straight away that their LGD has wandered off the property.
The Oyster3 supports automatic roaming between LTE-M and NB-IoT networks and high-precision GNSS. This allows owners to receive fast and accurate location data of their LGDs. The ability to connect across large properties always provides full visibility for Livestock Guardian Dogs owners and gives them peace of mind knowing that they can easily locate their dogs.
The Oyster3 In Areas Without Cellular Service
Many ranches across North America are in remote areas and do not have cell phone service. New technologies such as LoRaWAN have allowed ranchers and producers to operate GPS tracking devices and other IoT sensors in these areas. The Oyster3 is available in a LoRaWAN package that can provide tracking capabilities up to 9 miles around a ranch with the help of a LoRaWAN Gateway.
“Historically, GPS tracking equipment for animals has always had a problem. It either has great battery life, but is very expensive, costing several thousands of dollars per collar. Or, the device is affordable, but the battery only lasts 1-2 weeks. The Oyster3 has solved this and gives producers and ranchers the best of both worlds. Ultra-long battery life and an affordable tracking solution. Along with the Oyster3 being available in either Cellular or LoRaWAN, coverage is now available almost everywhere in North America… A game changer in protecting our friends and co-workers, the Livestock Guardian Dogs.” – Thomas Remmert, Co-Founder & CTO, LoneStar Tracking