Can increased activity recorded with help of activity monitoring sensor indicate an upcoming calving?

University essay from SLU/Dept. of Animal Nutrition and Management

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to find out if motion movements, e.g. number of lying bouts and lying time with a registered activity monitoring sensor can detect an impending calving and thereby be used as a measure and an indicator for an upcoming calving. For this, automatically step sensors were used and were attached to one of the cows’ hind leg. The sensor registered the individual step and movement activity of the cow. The frequency of standing and lying time were registered in percent. The study used 12 cows of the Simmental breed, all calved between November 5 to December 10, 2010. The cows were under the study housed in a cowshed with loose housing system, alley scrapers and calf hide where cows and calves could move freely. The cows were fed once a day and had ad lib access to silage. In the study it was seen that the number of steps increased from 7 days before calving. One day before parturition the step activity further increased until parturition occurred. The results were independent of what lactation number the cows had. However, there was a significant difference in frequency between lying and standing time per day depending on parity. Older cows with 3-7 lactations with only one calf at parturition seemed to have more lying time, mean 57.4% per day compared with heifers, with only one calf at parturition, mean 44.8% lying time. Based on the results from the study the cow’s individual number of steps per day is the most reliable parameter to use when it comes to detect an impending calving.

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