• Evaluation of the RumiWatchSystem for measuring grazing behaviour of cows

      Werner, J.; Leso, L.; Umstatter, C.; Niederhauser, J.; Kennedy, Emer; Geoghegan, Anne; Shalloo, Laurence; Schick, M.; O’Brien, Bernadette; Science Foundation Ireland; et al. (Elsevier, 2017-08-24)
      Feeding behaviour is an important parameter of animal performance, health and welfare, as well as reflecting levels and quality of feed available. Previously, sensors were only used for measuring animal feeding behaviour in indoor housing systems. However, sensors such as the RumiWatchSystem can also monitor such behaviour continuously in pasture-based environments. Therefore, the aim of this study was to validate the RumiWatchSystem to record cow activity and feeding behaviour in a pasture-based system. The RumiWatchSystem was evaluated against visual observation across two different experiments. The time duration per hour at grazing, rumination, walking, standing and lying recorded by the RumiWatchSystem was compared to the visual observation data in Experiment 1. Concordance Correlation Coefficient (CCC) values of CCC = 0.96 for grazing, CCC = 0.99 for rumination, CCC = 1.00 for standing and lying and CCC = 0.92 for walking were obtained. The number of grazing and rumination bouts within one hour were also analysed resulting in Cohen‘s Kappa (κ) = 0.62 and κ = 0.86 for grazing and rumination bouts, respectively. Experiment 2 focused on the validation of grazing bites and rumination chews. The accordance between visual observation and automated measurement by the RumiWatchSystem was high with CCC = 0.78 and CCC = 0.94 for grazing bites and rumination chews, respectively. These results indicate that the RumiWatchSystem is a reliable sensor technology for observing cow activity and feeding behaviour in a pasture based milk production system, and may be used for research purposes in a grazing environment.
    • Validation of an Automated Body Condition Scoring System Using 3D Imaging

      O’ Leary, Niall O’; Leso, Lorenzo; Buckley, Frank; Kenneally, Jonathon; McSweeney, Diarmuid; Shalloo, Laurence; Science Foundation Ireland; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 13/IA/1977; 16/RC/3835 (MDPI AG, 2020-06-26)
      Body condition scores (BCS) measure a cow’s fat reserves and is important for management and research. Manual BCS assessment is subjective, time-consuming, and requires trained personnel. The BodyMat F (BMF, Ingenera SA, Cureglia, Switzerland) is an automated body condition scoring system using a 3D sensor to estimate BCS. This study assesses the BMF. One hundred and three Holstein Friesian cows were assessed by the BMF and two assessors throughout a lactation. The BMF output is in the 0–5 scale commonly used in France. We develop and report the first equation to convert these scores to the 1–5 scale used by the assessors in Ireland in this study ((0–5 scale × 0.38) + 1.67 → 1–5 scale). Inter-assessor agreement as measured by Lin’s concordance of correlation was 0.67. BMF agreement with the mean of the two assessors was the same as between assessors (0.67). However, agreement was lower for extreme values, particularly in over-conditioned cows where the BMF underestimated BCS relative to the mean of the two human observers. The BMF outperformed human assessors in terms of reproducibility and thus is likely to be especially useful in research contexts. This is the second independent validation of a commercially marketed body condition scoring system as far as the authors are aware. Comparing the results here with the published evaluation of the other system, we conclude that the BMF performed as well or better.
    • Validation of an ear tag–based accelerometer system for detecting grazing behavior of dairy cows

      Pereira, G.M.; Heins, B.J.; O'Brien, Bernadette; McDonagh, A.; Lidauer, L.; Kickinger, F.; USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture; Science Foundation Ireland; 2012-51300-20015 (Elsevier, 2020-02-20)
      The objective of the study was to develop a grazing algorithm for an ear tag–based accelerometer system (Smartbow GmbH, Weibern, Austria) and to validate the grazing algorithm with data from a noseband sensor. The ear tag has an acceleration sensor, a radio chip, and temperature sensor for calibration and it can monitor rumination and detect estrus and localization. To validate the ear tag, a noseband sensor (RumiWatch, Itin and Hoch GmbH, Liestal, Switzerland) was used. The noseband sensor detects pressure and acceleration patterns, and, with a software program specific to the noseband, pressure and acceleration patterns are used to classify data into eating, ruminating, drinking, and other activities. The study was conducted at the University of Minnesota West Central Research and Outreach Center (Morris, MN) and at Teagasc Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre (Moorepark, Fermoy, Co. Cork, Ireland). During May and June 2017, observational data from Minnesota and Ireland were used to develop the grazing algorithm. During September 2018, data were collected by the ear tag and noseband sensor from 12 crossbred cows in Minnesota for a total of 248 h and from 9 Holstein-Friesian cows in Ireland for a total of 248 h. A 2-sided t-test was used to compare the percentage of grazing and nongrazing time recorded by the ear tag and the noseband sensor. Pearson correlations and concordance correlation coefficients (CCC) were used to evaluate associations between the ear tag and noseband sensor. The percentage of total grazing time recorded by the ear tag and by the noseband sensor was 37.0% [95% confidence interval (CI): 32.1 to 42.0] and 40.5% (95% CI: 35.5 to 45.6), respectively, in Minnesota, and 35.4% (95% CI: 30.6 to 40.2) and 36.9% (95% CI: 32.1 to 41.8), respectively, in Ireland. The ear tag and noseband sensor agreed strongly for monitoring grazing in Minnesota (r = 0.96; 95% CI: 0.94 to 0.97, CCC = 0.95) and in Ireland (r = 0.92; 95% CI: 0.90 to 0.94, CCC = 0.92). The results suggest that there is potential for the ear tag to be used on pasture-based dairy farms to support management decision-making.