Sundog keeps producers abreast of water issues

Art Weiss knows at least three times a day whether his cows have enough water in their troughs.

He gets pictures on his cellphone at 9 a.m., 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. from one system, and pictures from a motion-activated camera from another.

Weiss, who through Shadow Ranch near Mossbank, Sask., sells cattle handling equipment including solar pumps from Sundog Solar, uses a Spypoint camera mounted on the troughs and an app on his phone.

“Sundog systems are reliable, but this is more for peace of mind,” he said. “I know my cows have water; I looked at my pictures this morning.”

He has seen eagles at his troughs, coyotes and birds he doesn’t recognize.

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Producers will physically check their cattle anyway, but Weiss said he now has about 20 cameras installed on clients’ remote watering systems for that added insurance.

“We had the company set it up especially for us so you don’t need a picture set on motion,” he explained. “We wanted to aim for three pictures a day. To keep the cost down you get 100 free pictures a month.”

Producers who choose the motion system pay a monthly fee, however. It works with iPhone and Android systems.

He said the benefit over other monitoring systems is that the producer knows if there is a problem with the camera if the picture doesn’t arrive.

Weiss said he designed a converter to run the camera off of the trough batteries.

“We can set up a volt meter so I can even monitor how much power the batteries have,” he said.

There can be issues, as with any technology. The company will shut down the app when it’s upgrading it, and the cameras could be knocked out of position. After the recent wind storm in southern Saskatchewan Weiss still received his pictures on time.

“For me, I help my neighbours that rent my farm and it’s 33 degrees out, we’re in the combine — it’s a perfect combining day — but it’s a day that I wonder do my cows have water,” he said. “I look at the phone and I know the girls are happy.”

The app can also be used to monitor bale grazing in winter or to keep an eye on fuel tanks.

Users can also change their preferences from the time lapse three pictures a day to motion detection through the app.

Weiss plans to attend the Canadian Western Agribition, which is Nov. 20-25 in Regina, with a water station and camera display.

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