Drones’ Impact on Grazing Horses Studied by Researchers

As drones become increasingly popular across various industries, including agriculture, concerns have arisen among horse owners and ranchers about their impact on grazing horses.

To address this issue, researchers at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, conducted a study, recently published in the journal Rangelands. The team, which was led by Ryan Howell, investigated how horses reacted when they were exposed to drones flying at various altitudes above ground level.

They monitored the behavior of privately owned horses on various properties, with some drone flights focusing on individual horses and others on groups of up to 10.

Using binoculars and on-board camera footage, the researchers observed and categorized the horses' behavior, such as walking, trotting, and grazing, before the drone's launch and at 5-second intervals during its approach at 3 m, 15 m, and 33 m heights above ground level.

The study found that grazing was the most common “at ease” behavior before the drone's launch, but it significantly decreased as the drone approached, with vigilance and walking increasing. No animals were observed grazing after 50 seconds and did not return to grazing during the observation period.

The researchers reportedly noticed a decline in grazing and an increase in evasive movement and vigilance, which suggests that drone activity may harm horses' ability to forage as well as their general health, stress levels, and diet due to fear that drone activities and flight patterns may cause.

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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