THANKS to new technology, farmer’s can keep an eye on their livestock from nearly anywhere in the world – from the sofa, to a sun lounger, and even the hair salon.

Fourth generation sheep farmer and founder of livestock camera specialist Stockcam, David Flatman of West Stobby Lea, Steel, always wanted to follow in the family footsteps. But he was discouraged from entering the agriculture industry by his father who wanted his son to pursue a career in a more secure field.

“He encouraged me to look beyond agriculture and learn a trade,” David said. “He saw first-hand how unreliable the agriculture industry could be and he wanted me to have something to fall back on. I’d always loved technology, and I knew it was an industry which was only going to continue thriving, so that was a logical route.

“I never stopped helping out on the farm though, that was still a passion.”

After graduating with a degree in computing, David worked as a lecturer in higher education at Newcastle College for 10 years, before becoming an IT manager for a Newcastle-based company, where his weekdays would revolve around cyber security, network management and software development.

When his father died in 2007, however, David’s weekends and evenings were then spent tending to the farm and the 600 pure Texel sheep he now keeps with his wife Marie.

David left the IT industry only this month to focus on running Stockcam full time after its year of success.

“It’s a merging of my two passions – farming and technology,” David said. “But the main reason I wanted to establish Stockcam was to help other farmers like myself.”

With high definition pictures, complete with zoom and spin functions for clear vision of livestock at all angles in the shed, Stockcam cameras are designed by Hikvision. They provide 24-hour monitoring for farmers by connecting the camera to a smartphone or device, which can be viewed live from anywhere in the world with internet access.

“I knew what I needed on the farm and that was more ways to save time and multi-task and better ways of livestock monitoring. The Stockcam camera meant I wasn’t having to make constant trips to and from the shed, and I could keep an eye on lambing without disturbing the ewe, and intervene when necessary.

This month Stockcam hit headlines when farmer Angela Lee of Harwood Shield Farm, Hexhamshire, used the app to check up on her pregnant cow’s process whilst at a Corbridge hairdressing salon, where she and the stylists were able to watch the calf being born live thanks to her webcam.

“Another farmer we set up with webcams was able to save the life of his pet cow after his son tuned into the app whilst he was on holiday and noticed that the animal was trapped in the head yoke, and would have died without intervention,” David said.

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