Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cows clock-in for monitored mealtimes

Date:
August 1, 2011
Source:
Newcastle University
Summary:
Electronic ear tags are being trialled by scientists in a bid to provide farmers with an extra line of defense against diseases such as foot and mouth and TB.

Cattle fitted with "RFID" ear tags to monitor changes in feeding behavior which may indicate the early signs of disease. Part of a research project by the School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development at Newcastle University's Cockle Park Farm in Northumberland, UK.
Credit: Newcastle University

Electronic ear tags are being used to provide an early warning system that will help farmers identify sick animals within a herd.

The new system, being trialled by scientists at Newcastle University, tracks the feeding behaviour of each individual animal, alerting farmers to any change that might indicate the cow is unwell.

Using RFID (radio frequency identification) technology -- similar to that used in the Transport for London Oyster card -- each calf is 'clocked' in and out every time they approach the trough, with the time spent feeding being logged by a computer.

Ollie Szyszka, a PhD student in Newcastle University's School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, who is leading the project with Professor Ilias Kyriazakis, said the aim was to help farmers spot any illness in the herd much earlier on and treat the animals more effectively.

"Just as we know when we are sickening for something because we perhaps lose our appetite or feel more lethargic, animals also demonstrate subtle changes in behaviour when unwell," explains Ollie.

"Like any animal, the earlier you can spot and start treating an infection or disease the better chance there is of it making a full recovery. You also reduce the risk of the infection spreading if you can identify and isolate a sick animal but for a farmer with a herd of maybe 500 cattle it is easy to miss any early signs of disease.

"By giving each calf a unique code and tracking its feeding pattern our system is able to alert farmers to small -- but significant -- changes in behaviour which might indicate the animal is unwell."

The project is part of Newcastle University's drive to improve animal welfare on farms and research ways in which agriculture can become more sustainable. Published in the Annual Proceedings of the British Society for Animal Science Conference 2011, the work is being trialled at the University's Cockle Park farm, in Northumberland.

The tracking system -- developed by Newcastle University computing technician Steven Hall -- uses RFID chips fitted into the ear tag of each animal and short-range antennae mounted to their feeding troughs. The antennae pick up a signal every time the animal approaches to feed. The signal is blocked when the animal moves away.

The animals have also been fitted with pedometers which allow the Newcastle team to measure posture, relaying information about how active the calf is and how much time they spend lying down.

The results so far have shown that cattle suffering from an underlying health 'challenge' or infection do show significant changes in their behaviour.

Professor Kyriazakis adds: "Modern farming systems have minimised the contact between the animal and its keeper so we need to constantly look for ways to re-address the balance.

"What we are trying to do here at Newcastle is find ways to detect early infection or deterioration of an individual -- regardless of the size of the herd -- so the farmer can intervene at an early stage.

"In the light of recent outbreaks of diseases such as Foot and Mouth and TB, finding ways of detecting changes in behaviour before there are any obvious signs of disease, is becoming increasingly more important."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Newcastle University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Newcastle University. "Cows clock-in for monitored mealtimes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110727204407.htm>.
Newcastle University. (2011, August 1). Cows clock-in for monitored mealtimes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110727204407.htm
Newcastle University. "Cows clock-in for monitored mealtimes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110727204407.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo

Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo

AP (July 30, 2014) River otters were hitting the water slides to beat the summer heatwave on Wednesday at Ichikawa City's Zoological and Botanical Garden. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins