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Thursday 20 September 2018

Watch: Incredible drone footage of farming in the Burren

Timeless: Winterage in the Burren, Co Clare
Timeless: Winterage in the Burren, Co Clare
Catherine Hurley

Catherine Hurley

Every year farmers in the Burren, Clare, take their cattle to higher ground for the winter. It's a tradition that dates back hundreds of years, but one young farmer is using modern technology to this remote farming practice.

The unique Burren celebration of Samhain or the end of summer culminates in the 'Winterage Weekend' in October and for hundreds of years, Burren farmers have marked the end of summer by herding their cattle up on to winter pastures in the limestone uplands, in the tradition known as winterage.

Indeed, the Burren is one of the only places in the world where it still occurs, and the practice of outwintering stock on the limestone escarpments has been integral to shaping today's familiar Burren landscape.

The herd will stay here until January when many will be brought back for calving, but some farmers leave the cattle on the uplands until March.

Check out Joe O'Loughlen's outdoor calving camera in action. Joe uses a drone to keep an eye on his cattle in the Burren, Co Clare. Who says farmers can't do technology? 🤣 📹 Joe O'Loughlen, Burren, Co Clare

Posted by FarmIreland.ie on Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Joe O'Loghlen from Fanore, who took over the running of his family farm last year, from his father Tony is one of the many farmers in Clare who put their cattle out on the Burren for the winter months, but he now has a unique way of herding the cattle.

But he also managed to capture some incredible footage of one of his cows and her calf on the Burren recently, with fog moving over the mountain. 

His girlfriend bought him a drone for Christmas as "she was sick of walking up the mountains with me!" he said.

With 40 cows out wintered on the Burren, from the start of November, Joe has to ensure they are in good health throughout the winter months.

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"Checking the cattle on the Burren was the first thing I thought of when I got the drone, as I knew it would be awful handy for this.

"There is a lot of trackways up through the mountains and you can get up close enough in the jeep. But I'm up there every day as they are getting fed meal and I want to check on the cows and calves."

The drone has two batteries, which last for half an hour, and the drone can travel up to 2km, he said, before it goes out of range. When it does go out of range, it flies back to where it started from and Joe can operate the drone from the jeep and watch the live footage on his phone.

"The cows don't take any notice of it at all. When they are calving you can observe them from a distance and you can intervene then if something is going wrong."


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