Virtual fencing company, Corral Technologies, opens entrepreneurship possibilities for graduating senior Jack KeatingBy Phil Carter
By controlling cattle virtually, with this system, it eliminates a lot of wasted time and energy, and more pastureland can be used for grazing and raising cows. It increases pasture utilization significantly.Does the future of farming and ranching include a virtual corral? Jack Keating, founder of Corral Technologies, hopes it does. So do the cows on his family’s ranch near Atkinson, Nebraska who would have more freedom to roam, more pasture to graze and fewer confined spaces with barbed wire and fence posts.Jack Keating Founder, Corral Technologies and
Senior Mechanical Engineering Major
Keating, a senior mechanical engineering major, started his own company with his father, Matt, after his dad commented on the amount of time and labor a virtual fencing system would save farmers and ranchers.
“We were out in the pasture one day when my dad says to me, ‘wouldn’t it be nice to put collars on these cows like an invisible fence for dogs?’” said Keating, who graduates May 8 from UNL. “I thought about it myself, too, thinking ‘there’s got to be a better way.’”
Corral Technologies was born and after working through a few issues to get started, the company relies on an app that allows farmers and ranchers to move, track and record cattle data virtually. It’s currently being tested and used on cattle at the Keating ranch in Holt County. The system works by monitoring a group of 25 cows, one wearing a collar while 24 other cows are synced to the collared cow via ear tag sensors. Users can move, monitor or keep their cattle from wandering off by simply accessing the app on a smartphone, tablet or computer.
“If you have to move cattle manually from one pasture to the next, it’s time consuming. not to mention the hazards involved,” Keating described. “By controlling cattle virtually, with this system, it eliminates a lot of wasted time and energy, and more pastureland can be used for grazing and raising cows. It increases pasture utilization significantly.”
Virtual fencing also eliminates hours of intensive labor, from having to dig fence posts or replace damaged fencing after storms to not having to drive across pastureland or install fencing on or near rugged terrain.
“My dream has always been to start a company,” admitted Keating, who plans to work for Corral Technologies full-time. “It’s something I’m very passionate about and will be very helpful to ranchers.”
This new technology has already garnered praise from the agriculture industry and earned several awards in 2021, including the grand prize of $25,000 at April’s New Venture Competition hosted by the UNL College of Business, a LaunchLNK Grant from the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development, and $1,000 at a Center for Entrepreneurship 3-2-1 Quick Pitch Event.
“These funds will help our team push development forward faster, so we can get our product to market sooner and help ranchers everywhere live an easier, more profitable life,” noted Keating, who says a mechatronics engineering course he completed this semester has been valuable in developing Corral Technologies, as has UNL’s Center for Entrepreneurship.
“Sam Nelson (director of the Center for Entrepreneurship) has helped me a lot, providing knowledgeable advice and guidance as I’ve applied for various grants and funding to support Corral Technologies,” he added.
Corral Technologies is one of 10 companies located in The Combine, an agriculture technology incubator located on Nebraska Innovation Campus. The Combine Program supports undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff, and the general statewide community with more than a dozen partners, including Microsoft and the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.