Use of rumination and activity monitoring for the identification of dairy cows with health disorders: Part I. Metabolic and digestive disorders

M. L. Stangaferro, R. Wijma, L. S. Caixeta, M. A. Al-Abri, J. O. Giordano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations


The objectives of this study were to evaluate (1) the performance of an automated health-monitoring system (AHMS) to identify cows with metabolic and digestive disorders—including displaced abomasum, ketosis, and indigestion—based on an alert system (health index score, HIS) that combines rumination time and physical activity; (2) the number of days between the first HIS alert and clinical diagnosis (CD) of the disorders by farm personnel; and (3) the daily rumination time, physical activity, and HIS patterns around CD. Holstein cattle (n = 1,121; 451 nulliparous and 670 multiparous) were fitted with a neck-mounted electronic rumination and activity monitoring tag (HR Tags, SCR Dairy, Netanya, Israel) from at least −21 to 80 d in milk (DIM). Raw data collected in 2-h periods were summarized per 24 h as daily rumination and activity. A HIS (0 to 100 arbitrary units) was calculated daily for individual cows with an algorithm that used rumination and activity. A positive HIS outcome was defined as a HIS of <86 during at least 1 d from −5 to 2 d after CD. Blood concentrations of nonesterified fatty acids, β-hydroxybutyrate, total calcium, and haptoglobin were determined in a subgroup of cows (n = 459) at −11 ± 3, −4 ± 3, 0, 3 ± 1, 7 ± 1, 14 ± 1, and 28 ± 1 DIM. The sensitivity of the HIS was 98% [95% confidence interval (CI): 93, 100] for displaced abomasum (n = 41); 91% (95% CI: 83, 99) for ketosis (n = 54); 89% (95% CI: 68, 100) for indigestion (n = 9); and 93% (95% CI: 89, 98) for all metabolic and digestive disorders combined (n = 104). Days (mean and 95% CI) from the first positive HIS <86 and CD were −3 (−3.7, −2.3), −1.6 (−2.3, −1.0), −0.5 (−1.5, 0.5), and −2.1 (−2.5, −1.6) for displaced abomasum, ketosis, indigestion, and all metabolic and digestive disorders, respectively. The patterns of rumination, activity, and HIS for cows flagged by the AHMS were characterized by lower levels than for cows without a health disorder and cows not flagged by the AHMS from −5 to 5 d after CD, depending on the disorder and parameter. Differences between cows without health disorders and those flagged by the AHMS for blood markers of metabolic and health status confirmed the observations of the CD and AHMS alerts. The overall sensitivity and timing of the AHMS alerts for cows with metabolic and digestive disorders indicated that AHMS that combine rumination and activity could be a useful tool for identifying cows with metabolic and digestive disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7395-7410
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Dairy Science Association


  • activity
  • digestive disorder
  • metabolic disorder
  • rumination


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