Today Janette Barnard co-hosts to bring us an innovative virtual fencing product for cattle ranchers. Frank Wooten joins us as the founder of Vence. Vence offers producers optionality in their grazing operations whether large or small. This technology provides for rotational grazing opportunities while bridging obstacles such as large uneven terrain, poor connectivity and weather dynamics. The ramifications of this opportunity may allow US producers to better compete in the grass fed and grass finished product market.
“At a high level we are solving the problem of increasing yield and land management for cow-calf and cattle operators around the world…..we are enabling the ability to set up animal control at a very granular level without the need for physical fences or manual labor.” - Frank Wooten
“It’s not that physical fences are an insufficient solution. It's that they are a static solution to a dynamic problem.” To be able to adapt your ranching practices to changes in your land and terrain allows for more flexibility and improved land stewardship. “There are more livestock on the planet than there are cars on the road” leading to their management and land use being of the utmost significance. Producers would be able to access the location of their animals and schedule their proposed movement to best suit their needs.
The cattle become trained to the sound emitted by individual collars to be able to know where they can move without stimulating an electric shock. GPS chip technology and a tower built at a high location makes cell coverage not an issue for producers to connect with their animals. Only the tower itself needs cell coverage. Each collar then communicates with their assigned tower like a walkie-talkie. “We have yet to find a farm that in the right position we can’t get some sort of cell coverage on.”
“A cattleman’s job is to translate grass into a saleable final product….the increase in grass productivity is driven via managing the grass in a particular way and it is also driven via the soil….that allows customers to increase the productivity of the land. ” - Frank Wooten
“We spend a lot of time making sure that we understand exactly what the cost structure looks like for our customers and making sure that we are giving them something that is materially better than what they have currently and that it is cost justified.” One expected financial benefit is that producers are seeing a decrease in needing external sources of feed for their animals. However, Frank does explain that there “is a process there” and that the land will take some time to recover as weather, water and grass species allow. The flexibility Vence allows for will allow for optimization of land management practices from a convenient platform the producer can access from their mobile devices.
“We're in this for the long run with (producers) as well. We're not making money off those collars on day one, or even year one or year two, for that matter. It's a long-term business relationship that we're looking to have and establish with customers.” - Frank Wooten
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