An ear tag to measure grazing behaviour of dairy cows at pasture

B. O'Brien, J. Werner, A. McDonagh, N. O'Leary, G. Pereira, B. Heins, L. Shalloo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

In traditional farming systems, management methods relied on observing and intuitive decision-making by the farmer. This is increasingly difficult as animal numbers have increased and farmer's available time has decreased. But animal localization and monitoring systems are being developed that can support or replace direct visual observations. One such system is the SMARTBOW (Weibern, Austria) ear tag incorporating a 3-axis accelerometer and battery, with the claimed advantage of compactness and long battery life. The ear tag measures cow head and ear movement during, e.g. grazing. This monitoring and measuring system can capture an activity budget for the individual cow over the 24 h day. This ear tag has been implemented on commercial farms where cows are housed indoors, but research is required for its deployment on animals in pasture-based systems. Such work is on-going in Ireland and Minnesota, USA. The system was installed at Teagasc Moorepark in March 2017. Behavioural data of cows (grazing times) were collected by visual observation, as the reference method, and by deployment of the SMARTBOW ear tag. Specific algorithms were developed for cow behaviour measurement within a pasture-based system. Subsequently, a study was conducted to evaluate the SMARTBOW ear tag, including the newly developed algorithms, using RumiWatch as the reference standard. The SMARTBOW and RumiWatch systems recorded grazing times for 778 h at the Teagasc Moorepark location. Agreement between the SMARTBOW and RumiWatch for grazing behaviour was strong, with a Pearson correlation of 0.91 and a Spearman rank correlation of 0.84.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPrecision Livestock Farming 2019 - Papers Presented at the 9th European Conference on Precision Livestock Farming, ECPLF 2019
EditorsBernadette O'Brien, Deirdre Hennessy, Laurence Shalloo
PublisherOrganising Committee of the 9th European Conference on Precision Livestock Farming (ECPLF), Teagasc, Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre
Pages907-912
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9781841706542
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019
Event9th European Conference on Precision Livestock Farming, ECPLF 2019 - Cork, Ireland
Duration: Aug 26 2019Aug 29 2019

Publication series

NamePrecision Livestock Farming 2019 - Papers Presented at the 9th European Conference on Precision Livestock Farming, ECPLF 2019

Conference

Conference9th European Conference on Precision Livestock Farming, ECPLF 2019
CountryIreland
CityCork
Period8/26/198/29/19

    Fingerprint

Keywords

  • Accelerometer
  • Ear tag
  • Grazing
  • Validation

Cite this

O'Brien, B., Werner, J., McDonagh, A., O'Leary, N., Pereira, G., Heins, B., & Shalloo, L. (2019). An ear tag to measure grazing behaviour of dairy cows at pasture. In B. O'Brien, D. Hennessy, & L. Shalloo (Eds.), Precision Livestock Farming 2019 - Papers Presented at the 9th European Conference on Precision Livestock Farming, ECPLF 2019 (pp. 907-912). (Precision Livestock Farming 2019 - Papers Presented at the 9th European Conference on Precision Livestock Farming, ECPLF 2019). Organising Committee of the 9th European Conference on Precision Livestock Farming (ECPLF), Teagasc, Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre.