Tech, high-speed internet help today's ranchers thrive

Oh give me a home, where the buffalo drone....
John Smith shows off the drone he uses to help round up his cattle — just one of many high-tech tools he's integrated into his operation in recent years. (Matt Meuse/CBC)

This isn't your grandfather's ranch.

John Smith and Laura Laing, who operate Plateau Cattle Company in southern Alberta, have embraced technology to run their ranch more efficiently—and humanely—than previous generations.
Laura Laing and John Smith are the husband and wife team behind Plateau Cattle Company in the foothills of southern Alberta. (Matt Meuse/CBC)

Although Smith still tracks cattle on horseback, he's employed new technology like a quadcopter drone to help him.

Sending the drone across a river or over trees to see where cows might be can save him hours of riding, he told Spark contributor Matt Meuse, who travelled to the ranch last fall to make a documentary.

Laing points out that they have also eliminated the longstanding practice of branding calves, instead using RFID tags to identify them. This reduces stress on the animals, which keeps them healthier.

Click above to listen to Meuse's documentary.

Plateau Cattle Company leases crown land to graze their cattle during the summer months — but in the Rocky Mountains, a foot of snow in early October is never out of the question. (Courtesy of Laura Laing)