Movement behaviour of traditionally managed cattle in the Eastern Province of Zambia: investigations using two-dimensional motion sensors
Lubaba, Caesar Himbayi
MetadataShow full item record
Two-dimensional (2-D) motion sensors are activity motion sensors that use electronic accelerometers to record the lying, standing and walking behaviour of animals. They were used in this study with the aim of monitoring and quantifying the movement behaviour of traditionally managed cattle in the context of improving animal health and production in rural sub-Saharan Africa. Improvements in animal health and production could be made if data can be automatically collected on large numbers of animals and over prolonged periods of time. This data can then be used by stakeholders in making management and disease control decisions. This study was designed to assess whether the 2-D motion sensors were suitable for use on traditionally managed cattle in Kasero and Makale, two veterinary camps in Petauke District, Eastern Province of Zambia. It further aimed to provide a baseline for future research on traditional cattle movement behaviour. The study was carried out in a region where trypanosomiasis and tick-borne diseases are endemic and low haemoglobin values are often associated with these and other parasitic infections. An assessment was made on the effect on cattle movement behaviour of a treatment directed against tsetse-transmitted (trypanosoma congolense (Savannah type), trypanosoma vivax and trypanosoma brucei), tick-transmitted (theileria parva, anaplasma spp. and babesia spp.) and pasture-transmitted pathogens of African cattle. A structured questionnaire on livestock ownership and management practices showed that cattle owners considered trypanosomiasis and theileriosis the main constraints to improved cattle health and production in their traditional crop-livestock mixed farming system. A baseline study was conducted in which haemoglobin values were measured in 432 cattle in the two areas. In each area, ten pairs of co-grazing cattle were selected on the basis of one high and one low haemoglobin value in each pair. The co-grazing pairs were age and sex matched. Each animal had a motion sensor placed on its hind leg, to continuously measure and record its activity for two weeks. There were significant differences in haemoglobin levels between the two camps with Makale having lower levels than Kasero. Baseline data indicated that a larger proportion of sampled animals in Makale had trypanosomiasis while those in Kasero had theileriosis. Molecular parasitological results showed that the proportion of animals sampled in Makale that had trypanosomiasis was greater (21.4% [95%CI: 16.4 – 27.1]) than that in Kasero (1.4% [95%CI: 0.5 – 4.1]). However, Kasero had a greater proportion of animals positive for theileriosis (25.6% [95%CI: 20.2 – 31.9]) than Makale (2.4% [95%CI: 1.0 – 5.2]). A total of 204 cattle were screened for a three week treatment study in Makale. From this number, 40 animals with low circulating haemoglobin levels (<8g/dl) were paired and investigated for differences in movement behaviour patterns between treated and non- treated cattle. Analysing the sensor data using principal components analysis (PCA) revealed that the treated animals (which had higher mean haemoglobin values at the end of the study) were clustered more closely on the score plots than the control animals (which had lower mean haemoglobin values). The numbers of steps taken by high haemoglobin cattle in both studies were significantly higher than the low haemoglobin cattle. This, coupled with the PCA results suggests an association between cattle haemoglobin levels and their movement patterns.