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Animal Welfare Implications of Digital Tools for Monitoring and Management of Cattle and Sheep on Pasture

Herlin, Anders Henrik and Brunberg, Emma and Hultgren, Jan and Högberg, Niclas and Rydberg, Anna and Skarin, Anna (2021). Animal Welfare Implications of Digital Tools for Monitoring and Management of Cattle and Sheep on Pasture. Animals. 11 , 829
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Abstract

Simple SummaryMonitoring the welfare of cattle and sheep in large pastures can be time-consuming, especially if the animals are scattered over large areas in semi-natural pastures. There are several technologies for monitoring animals with wearable or remote equipment for recording physiological or behavioural parameters and trigger alarms when the acquired information deviates from the normal. Automatic equipment allows continuous monitoring and may give more information than manual monitoring. Ear tags with electronic identification can detect visits to specific points. Collars with positioning (GPS) units can assess the animals' movements and habitat selection and, to some extent, their health and welfare. Digitally determined virtual fences, instead of the traditional physical ones, have the potential to keep livestock within a predefined area using audio signals in combination with weak electric shocks, although some individuals may have difficulties in responding as intended, potentially resulting in reduced animal welfare. Remote technology such as drones equipped with cameras can be used to count animals, determine their position and study their behaviour. Drones can also herd and move animals. However, the knowledge of the potential effects on animal welfare of digital technology for monitoring and managing grazing livestock is limited, especially regarding drones and virtual fences.The opportunities for natural animal behaviours in pastures imply animal welfare benefits. Nevertheless, monitoring the animals can be challenging. The use of sensors, cameras, positioning equipment and unmanned aerial vehicles in large pastures has the potential to improve animal welfare surveillance. Directly or indirectly, sensors measure environmental factors together with the behaviour and physiological state of the animal, and deviations can trigger alarms for, e.g., disease, heat stress and imminent calving. Electronic positioning includes Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) for the recording of animals at fixed points. Positioning units (GPS) mounted on collars can determine animal movements over large areas, determine their habitat and, somewhat, health and welfare. In combination with other sensors, such units can give information that helps to evaluate the welfare of free-ranging animals. Drones equipped with cameras can also locate and count the animals, as well as herd them. Digitally defined virtual fences can keep animals within a predefined area without the use of physical barriers, relying on acoustic signals and weak electric shocks. Due to individual variations in learning ability, some individuals may be exposed to numerous electric shocks, which might compromise their welfare. More research and development are required, especially regarding the use of drones and virtual fences.

Authors/Creators:Herlin, Anders Henrik and Brunberg, Emma and Hultgren, Jan and Högberg, Niclas and Rydberg, Anna and Skarin, Anna
Title:Animal Welfare Implications of Digital Tools for Monitoring and Management of Cattle and Sheep on Pasture
Series Name/Journal:Animals
Year of publishing :2021
Volume:11
Article number:829
Number of Pages:20
Publisher:MDPI
ISSN:2076-2615
Language:English
Publication Type:Article Review/Survey
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Copyright:Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 4 Agricultural Sciences > 402 Animal and Dairy Science > Animal and Dairy Science.
Keywords:animal welfare, cattle, monitoring, precision livestock farming, sensor, sheep, virtual fence
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-111429
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-111429
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
DOI10.3390/ani11030829
Web of Science (WoS)000633139900001
ID Code:23266
Faculty:LTV - Fakulteten för landskapsarkitektur, trädgårds- och växtproduktionsvetenskap
VH - Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science
Department:(LTJ, LTV) > Department of Biosystems and Technology (from 130101)
(VH) > Department of Biomedical Science and Veterinary Public Health
(VH) > Dept. of Animal Environment and Health
(VH) > Dept. of Animal Nutrition and Management
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:14 Apr 2021 13:23
Metadata Last Modified:12 May 2021 10:40

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