How Do Cattle GPS Trackers Work?

gps trackers

As of 2022, there are over 91 million cattle being raised in the United States. 

If you’re involved in raising cattle for beef, dairy, or other uses, you should consider GPS trackers. GPS allows you to know where your herd is at any time of the day or night. 

Let’s take a look at how GPS trackers work and what they can do for you. 

What Is GPS?

A GPS tracking system connects to the GPS network of satellites.  The acronym, GPS, stands for Global Positioning System. The satellites in the system work together to provide pinpoint positional data to any device that is connected to the system. 

Smartphones are a great example of something that is connected to GPS. This is how Google knows where you are and how to find what you’re looking for. If you’ve ever used your cellphone to provide directions, you’ve used a GPS device. 

GPS Tracking for Livestock

Now that you know what the GPS system is all about, how does it work with livestock? To start with, there are several types of tracking available with livestock. Your situation will determine which one of the options that you should go with. 

Let’s take a look at each of the ways that you can track livestock: 

Cellular Tracking

One of the most common and easiest ways to track cattle is with a cellular tracker. This is done by attaching a collar to the animal. This collar will then send the location data of that animal to your phone or device. 

This type of tracking is ideal for areas where there is cellular coverage. You don’t need any additional infrastructure support for a cellular tracking system to operate. The collars themselves operate on batteries, but they are easy to replace and last a long time. 

The tracking system works by using cellular towers to relay the information to you. The attachment on the collar of the animal will send its location data via the cellular network where you live. 

Satellite Tracking

This style of tracking is done via satellites. It works anywhere in the world, regardless of cell coverage. The device used is a simple tracker that is placed in the ear of the animal. This system is also powered by solar energy and doesn’t require any additional infrastructure. 

One weakness of this system is that it does require a clear sky to function properly. You can choose to have updates sent to you at pre-determined intervals. You can receive the location of your herd every thirty minutes, one hour, or six hours depending on your specific needs. 

GPS satellites are used to provide incredible accuracy and location data. You’ll receive updates via your phone or other connected devices. 

LoRa Tracking

LoRa is a form of wide-area net that is similar to WiFi but is used when you don’t need as much data. For the purposes of tracking cattle, the information required is minimal. This enables the system to operate anywhere, regardless of infrastructure, but it does require a base station. 

Once you have the base station set up, the system will be functional. One advantage to a LoRa tracking system is that it provides almost continuous tracking information. Updates can be received in as little as 1 minute, so you’ll get a real-time idea of where your cattle are. 

The heart of this system is essentially a radio signal. This signal is created by a collar attachment placed on each animal. 

Easy and Simple Setup 

It can be a little tricky to get a tracker onto an animal, but with collars and ear tags, it becomes a lot easier. The system is set up and ready to operate from the moment it is turned on. You can choose how many of the cattle in your herd you want to track. This helps you control the cost. 

Why Track Livestock?

There are a number of reasons why ranchers may want to know where their cattle are. Some of the common factors that will influence a decision about tracking are geography, crime potential, and infrastructure. Another reason many choose is because they have a small herd on a large parcel. 


If your hard grazes on or around public land, it can be easy to lose track of them. This is particularly true in the western areas of the country. If a cow gets out of your fence and onto BLM land, you may never find that animal alive again. 

Also, if you live in an area with a lot of herds that live close together, you’ll be able to find your cows easily. You’ll know exactly where they are when you go out looking for them.


Cattle are a big business, and unfortunately, not everyone is playing by the rules. With a cattle tracking system, you don’t have to worry about your cattle going very far. You’ll be able to tell where they are, and you can pass that information on to authorities if necessary. 


If your livestock farm is in a wide open space, cattle can sometimes get it in their heads to travel. This can make it a real nuisance to track down and find your herd. Without a lot of infrastructure or friendly neighbors to help keep the cows contained, a tracking system will make your life a lot easier. 

Tracking For Everyone

The uses of GPS livestock tracking are unlimited. You can even attach them to herding dogs or livestock guardian dogs in order to have a better idea of their movements. This can help you prevent predators from penetrating your fencing or getting after your less capable livestock, like sheep. 

GPS Trackers for Livestock 

Give yourself the peace of mind that comes with knowing where your animals are at all times. Let GPS trackers do the work so that you can get on with your work. You don’t need to waste hours of your day tracking down a stray animal any longer. 

If you have any questions or want to get your system set up, we’re here to help you. For more information, contact us

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