Drone footage of a dairy farm

Drone footage of a dairy farm

Drone footage of a dairy farm

So that they could get as much daylight as possible, the Alltech film crew went to the Fagundes family dairy near Hanford, California, early in the morning. Alan Henthorne, who is in charge of media relations for Alltech, said, “We always try to be early.” On the other hand, the dairy farmer is never forced to work. When the Alltech team got to the Fagundes dairy, the morning milking and feeding out were already in full swing.

The team had shot on location before, most recently in Mexico, Europe, and China, but this was their first time in California, which makes more milk than any other state. To give you an idea of what that number means, the average number of dairy cows in California is over 1,000, while the number is closer to 100 in Wisconsin, which is the second-ranked milk state.

Most of Frank and Susan Fagundes’ 700-cow dairy herd are Holstein cows, which didn’t want to be photographed up close. Alan’s team usually uses a Canon C-100 and a DSLR with interchangeable lenses, but because the dairy was so big, they had to use a drone.

Alan says that the Alltech team has been using a small drone for a few years and has already added it to their list of story tools. The Alltech team planned to use a drone to film a family walking their dog among the calves at the Fagundes dairy to show the size of the company and the unique, if dusty (due to the drought!) California landscape.

But drones add a new element to the process of making movies. Different things happen when dogs, cows, and people see the flying object. In this case, the drone was almost going to be eaten by dogs. Alan said, “The Fagundes’ German Shepherd was determined to do his job and protect them all from this intruder.”

So, what did the cows do when they found out they were famous?

The team said that the drone did a great job even though it “looked and sounded like the biggest fly on the planet.” Only once did they come close to causing a stampede.

But Alan made it clear that safety is always the most important thing in these shootings. Drones can only be used with permission and with the utmost care for people and animals’ safety. Researchers are already figuring out how far a drone needs to be from an animal for it not to be bothered. During the shoot, the legs of the camera tripod wear the same biosecurity shoes as the people.

The people who worked on the Alltech film think that their hard work was well worth it. Alan said, “Farmers work hard and don’t always have time to tell their own stories.” We’re glad to show how much hard work, passion, and care can go into what they do, which in the end feeds the rest of us. You can watch the whole film above or on our interactive Farmer Stories Map.


Sophia Amelia is the New York Times Bestselling Author. Writing stories to inspire young minds. Celebrating the power of words & imagination through my books. Join me on my journey to creating stories that will capture your imagination and captivate your heart.

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