Ranchers and land managers rely on thousands of miles of physical fence to manage livestock on rangelands. While permanent wire fence has led to improved rangeland condition in many places, wire fence provides little to no flexibility to rapidly change pasture size, manipulate grazing distribution, or avoid areas of high use or sensitive habitat within a pasture. As a result, there are constraints on the use of permanent fences as a tool for managing riparian health, post-fire vegetation recovery, or improving livestock distribution.
Virtual fencing (VF) is an emerging precision livestock management technology that can be used to increase management flexibility. The system uses invisible barriers, established by Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates, to influence livestock movement with a combination of auditory and electrical cues.
Foundations of VF
- Virtual fencing (VF) is an emerging precision livestock management tool with multiple interconnected components.
- [in review] Virtual fence lines are created in VF software, which requires a digital map of an entire ranch or land management area.
- [in review] Understanding how livestock recognize and interpret the auditory and electrical cues can limit potential risks for animal health and welfare.
Create the Conditions Success
[coming soon] Special consideration is needed when training livestock, designing fences, managing incentives, and moving livestock.
The Financial Implications of Adopting a Virtual Fence: A Cost-Benefit Analysis[in progress] Economic pros and cons of VF implementation to better understand the financial benefits and risks of the technology compared to tradition fencing.
Collar Management[in progress] Battery life, collar disposal, strategies for collection in the field, and data organization.
Collar Fit[up next] Equipment needed, strategies for proper fit, and safety when placing virtual fence collars on livestock.
- Plot the best location for a single base station. Requires ArcGIS Pro with the Spatial Analyst extension enabled.
- Compare the cost of VF systems and physical fence in different scenarios.
- The Arizona Geographic Information Council curates GIS data resources for Arizona and other western states.
- The U.S. Forest Service maintains digital rangeland data, including boundaries and ownership, natural resources, roads and trails, and other datasets.
- The Bureau of Land Management shares geographic data and content that can be downloaded.