The conversations of life

NZ farmers now rounding up sheep – with ‘barking’ drones


Can man’s best friend be replaced by a robot?

Our Kiwi neighbours have started using drone technology – unmanned aerial vehicles best known for delivering pizza – to help with jobs that are dirty, dangerous or just plain boring – including mustering sheep.

The latest drone model, the $3,500 DJI Mavic Enterprise, can record sounds (like a dog’s bark) and play them over a speaker to be projected across a paddock.

Not only does the technology help move stock along faster, it also stresses the animals less than a dog might. Drones could also help farmers save some serious time and money.

“It can sometimes take half a day to find a water leak, whereas with a drone you can zip around and have it done in an hour at the longest,” fourth-generation farmer, Ben Crossley, told Radio NZ.

So, are New Zealand’s sheep dogs out of a job?

The farmers say no – they’ll always be a place for them on the farm. But if the dogs want to spend some of their spare time with us, we’re happy to supply pats.

Lauren is a journalist for, agedcare101 and The Donaldson Sisters. Growing up in a big family in small town communities, she has always had a love for the written word, joining her local library at the age of six months. With over eight years' experience in writing and editing, she is a keen follower of news and current affairs with a nose for a good story.

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