If you are a farmer that breeds cows you will know all about the extra work involved in looking after them during the calving season. Having to go back to the cattle shed, many times, during the day just to see if one of them is about to give birth is very time-consuming. Worst of all, getting up during cold dark nights and going back for look at the animals can deprive you of a lot of sleep. Most of the time, there might be nothing happening. You might be lucky if your cattle shed is close to your home but if the shed is far away it makes things very difficult for you.

This was the case for my family during the calving season. To solve this, and make life a little easier, I decided to install a calving camera in our cattle shed so that we could check on the cows calving from the comfort for our house. Now, anytime I want to have a quick look of what is going on in the shed all I need to do is to start-up my laptop and log into the camera. From there, I can see everything that is going on in the shed. If one of the cows looks like she is about to give birth then I can go to the shed and tend to her if needed.

Camera System

There are many types of camera systems that you can install. I decided to install an IP Camera system with Pan, Tilt and Zoom (PTZ) functionality. The reason I choose this type was that I wanted the ability to view as much of the shed as possible with a single camera. An IP Camera with PTZ means that the viewing angle of the camera could be controlled remotely from a computer. The camera viewing angle can pan 360 degrees around and tilt 90 degrees. This significantly increase the area that the camera can view. The camera lens can also zoom to give a clearer picture.

I purchased a Foscam Outdoor Wireless IP Camera which was ideal for what I wanted and wasn't too expensive. I fixed the camera up high in the center of the shed to give the best view possible of the surrounding area.

Wi-Fi To The Shed

One of the biggest obstacle I had was to get Wi-Fi access in the cattle shed that would communicate with our existing Wi-Fi network in our house. Our house is about 600 meters from the shed. The wireless Wi-Fi access point in the house does not have a large enough range to make it back that far. To overcome this, I purchased two NanoStation M5 directional Wi-Fi antennas. I attached one antenna to the chimney of the house and the other to the cable of the cattle shed. It is very important that both antennas are facing each other and have a clear line of sight.

Connecting It All Together

Connecting the directional antenna on the house to the existing Wi-Fi access point extended the Wi-Fi network back to the cattle shed. The camera was simply connected to the directional antenna on the shed. I was now able to connect to the camera and view the video stream from the house. I was also able to control the camera and pan, tilt and zoom in every direction. I now have a fantastic view of the cattle and I can check on them, more regularly, during the calving season from the comfort of home. Having this set up was a great success and how saves a lot of time and effort. 

I hope this article has given you some ideas for installing a calving camera for your farm. They are a fantastic tool that cuts down on work, are not too expensive, and they are not that difficult to set up.

Foscam Outdoor Wireless IP Camera

Foscam FI8919W Outdoor Pan and Tilt Wireless IP Camera (White)
Amazon Price: $179.99 $152.50 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 2, 2015)