The CowView system, commercialised by GEA Farm Technologies, monitors the location of the cow in the barn through a dedicated positioning system. In addition to locating the cow, the system can also derive data on the time budget of the animal such as time spent on moving, walking, and in the various activity zones of the barn (resting zone, alley ways, feeding table, milking area).
Recent findings obtained within the EU-PLF project show that these data can be used to obtain information in advance of events that are important for both the cow and the farmer. These were presented during the 7th ECPLF conference that was held in Milan, Italy from 15-18 September 2015.
Dr Karen Helle Sloth and colleague at GEA and Uptime-IT showed descriptive changes in cow time-budgets in relation to oestrus detection in two Danish dairy farms. In both herds, the changes showed promising potential for detecting oestrus, with excellent reliability, both on the day of oestrus and on the day before. This will be very useful for the farmer who can then decide on the best time for insemination and therefore increase the chances of successful reproduction.
In a second poster, Sloth and colleagues presented variability in cow time-budgets between farms and between animals within the farm. This type of information may, in the future, become very useful for identifying animals with extreme behaviour e.g. diseased or stressed animals and for evaluation of herd level management. This was further supported by Dr Isabelle Veissier who presented preliminary results obtained by the French National Institute for Agricultural Research in collaboration with GEA. Like any other diurnal animal, cows exhibit a circadian rhythm in their activity, being less active during the night and more active at feeding times in the morning and in the afternoon. From statistical analysis of the data obtained from CowView, she observed that the circadian rhythm is altered in situations where the animal is stressed either because of deteriorated welfare conditions of because of illness. If confirmed in more extensive studies involving more animals and herds, such findings could result in early warning procedures indicating to the farmer that the animal is unwell and giving possible reasons for the animal being so, such as disease or lameness.
More information can be obtained from KarenHelle.Sloth[at]gea.com or isabelle.veissier[at]clermont.inra.fr