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|Title: ||Investigating the use of behavioural, accelerometer and heart rate measurements to predict calving in dairy cows|
|Authors: ||Miedema, Johanna Mary|
|Supervisor(s): ||Macrae, Alastair|
|Issue Date: ||3-Jul-2010|
|Publisher: ||The University of Edinburgh|
|Abstract: ||Calving is an essential event in dairy production, as lactation only begins after
calving and cows must give birth at regular intervals in order to maintain milk
production. Careful management is important during the weeks around calving as
this is when dairy cows most frequently experience health problems. Experienced
stockmen use judgements based on physical and behavioural changes in order to
recognise when cows may be about to calve, and subsequently be available to offer
assistance when required. With increasing herd sizes and large numbers of cows per
stockman, individual attention is often difficult. An automated system that monitors
behavioural or physiological changes before calving could potentially be used to
predict the time of calving, and help improve supervision by farm staff.
Data comprising two years of records from Langhill Farm were used to identify any
variables which could be used for calving prediction or as risk factors for various
calving problems. Records kept by stockmen detailing the signs of calving and time
of observation were compared with quantitative behavioural data.
Observations from video recordings were used to identify any consistent behavioural
changes occurring the day before calving that could be used to predict the onset of
calving. The frequencies of lying and tail raises proved to be the most useful
indicators, as they showed consistent changes in the final six hours before calving.
Differences between heifers and cows, and between those experiencing calving
difficulties and those which did not, were also investigated. Differences between
heifers and cows were shown which should be taken into account when predicting
calving times. However, no early-warning signs of difficulties were identified for
cows and heifers assisted with a calving jack.
Cows were also fitted with collars containing accelerometers to investigate if features
in tri-axial accelerometer data could be shown to correspond to specific behaviours.
Some success was achieved in identifying eating behaviour and postural changes,
demonstrating that there is potential for monitoring behaviour using this method.
Weekly heart rate recordings were also taken to establish if there was a change in the
heart rate or heart rate variability during the final six weeks of gestation. Changes
were found but, although they were statistically significant, they were considered too
subtle for any practical application.
Consistent changes in behaviour were observed in the six hours before calving, some
of which could be measured using accelerometers. These changes have the potential
to be used as the basis of an automated monitoring system to predict calving.|
|Sponsor(s): ||ITI Techmedia|
|Appears in Collections:||Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies thesis and dissertation collection|
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