KSU researches ‘virtual’ fencing’s influence on conservation, cattle

The idea is cattle collars and advanced GPS tracking could define exclusion zones where no physical fence existed. Cattle could be directed by use of distinct audio noises or low-power shocks.

By

State News

May 9, 2022 - 3:32 PM

A Kansas State University research project is looking at the effects virtual cattle fencing has on grassland birds and the areas along waterways on the tallgrass prairie and a cattle ranch. GPS devices emitting sound or a light charge may direct cattle away from designated areas. (Kansas Reflector screen capture from KSU photograph)

TOPEKA — Ecologists at Kansas State University are outfitting Flint Hills grassland cattle with tracking collars to create a virtual electronic fence capable of creating a protective buffer for fragile streams and ground-nesting birds.

The Nature Conservancy provided a $435,000 grant to Kansas State for work with the National Park Service, the Kansas Grazing Lands Coalition and private producers to determine if “virtual” fencing could supplant portions of labor-intensive and high-cost wire fences on vast grazing pastures.

The idea is cattle collars and advanced GPS tracking could define exclusion zones where no physical fence existed. Cattle could be directed by use of distinct audio noises or low-power shocks.

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