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Journal of Animal Science Abstract - Animal Production

Technical note: Evaluation of a system for monitoring individual feeding behavior and activity in beef cattle


This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 93 No. 8, p. 4110-4114
    Received: Jan 21, 2015
    Accepted: May 15, 2015
    Published: July 2, 2015

    1 Corresponding author(s):

  1. B. Wolfger*,
  2. A.V. Mang*,
  3. N. Cook,
  4. K. Orsel* and
  5. E. Timsit 1*
  1. * Department of Production Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada T2N 4N1
     Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lacombe Research Centre, Lacombe, AB, Canada T4L 1W1


Behavioral observations are important to detect illness in beef cattle. However, traditional observation techniques are time and labor intensive and may be subjective. The objective was to validate a system for monitoring individual feeding behavior and activity in beef cattle (Fedometer [FEDO]; ENGS, Rosh Pina, Israel). Sixteen steers (initial BW ± SD = 326 ± 46 kg) were fitted with data loggers (FEDO) on their left front leg and housed in a pen with a feedbunk equipped with an antenna emitting an electromagnetic field that reached 30 ± 2 cm in front of the feedbunk. Feedbunk attendance (duration of visit and frequency of meals) measured by FEDO was compared with live observations (27 observational periods lasting between 72 and 240 min; mean 126 min). Lying time and frequency of lying bouts were compared with previously validated accelerometers fitted to the hind leg (10 steers equipped for 10 to 12 d; HOBO Pendant G Acceleration Data Logger [HOBO]; Onset Computer Corporation, Pocasset, MA). Step counts were compared with video recordings (15 observations for 6-min intervals in 6 steers). Concordance correlation coefficients (CCC), accounting for repeated measures, and limits of agreement were computed. Comparison between FEDO and observed time at the feedbunk yielded a CCC of 0.98 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.97–0.99). All 68 meal events observed were recorded by FEDO. However, FEDO recorded 4 meal events during the 27 observational periods that were not observed. Lying time measured by HOBO and FEDO were highly correlated (CCC = 0.98; 95% CI 0.97–0.99). However, frequency of lying bouts measured by FEDO was only moderately correlated to HOBO (CCC = 0.71; 95% CI 0.63–0.77); FEDO underestimating the number of lying bouts (on average, 0.4 fewer bouts per 6 h). Step count by FEDO was moderately correlated to video observations (CCC = 0.75; 95% CI 0.49–0.89); FEDO overestimating the number of steps (on average, 5 more steps per 6 min). In conclusion, the FEDO system accurately measured duration of feedbunk attendance, frequency of meals, and lying time. However, it overestimated the number of steps and underestimated the frequency of lying bouts.

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