The primary task of the drones will be to monitor feed crops, but also to protect the cattle herd, as the company has faced a rising number of wolf attacks.
“Protecting young animals from predators, especially wolves is now one of our main tasks,” said Ivan Shapochkin, deputy general director for economic security at Bryansk Meat Company, a subsidiary of Miratorg.
Several wolf attacks over recent months have caused real damage to the company, which uses pastoral breeding and has no physical conditions to protect the herd of 300,000 head.
A spokesman for the company said wolves were probably attracted by the smell of blood and the placenta, as cows calved in the fields. When a wolf attacks the herd, it results in panic and so many animals can be injured. There have been occasions when the predators have bitten to death a few calves per visit, but have only eaten one, said the company.
The overall spend on hiring the hunters to kill wolves has been estimated at RUB1.5 million (US$25,000) so far, although these numbers may increase in the future.
Diversified feed base
“Unmanned drones allow us to get an objective assessment of the state of the fields to monitor the condition of crops in real time, enabling us to make timely adjustments, as well as count the number of livestock,” said Miratorg-Bryansk general director Valeriy Samoylov.“Thanks to their navigation system, the area that requires treatment is clearly defined. In addition, we use them to detect and prevent violations.”
The overall spend on purchasing the drones has been limited so far to RUB2.5m (US$40,000) According to the company’s management, Miratorg currently operates 47 farms in the Bryansk, Kaluga, Orel and Smolensk Oblasts. The company claimed this complex was the biggest beef-breeding project in Europe, as the overall number of cattle should reach 480,000 head by 2018. This will allow the company to meet up to 20% of the overall demand for beef in the Russian domestic market, as well as supplying a large number of products for export.
“The strategic goal of the company is the creation of a diversified feed base, providing maximum efficiency to fatten the animals and ensure the environmental safety of the final product,” added Samoylov. “We understand that real-time information about the state of crops and land ensures we take the right management decisions for the planned harvest. So our company is sparing no expense and is using the most modern equipment in the crop and livestock division of the holding.”