Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - OPTISCORE (Applying new electronic sensors to create animal condition scoring protocols for the automated measurement of health and welfare traits ...)

The project set out to apply new electronic sensors to create animal condition scoring protocols for the automated measurement of health and welfare traits for use in sustainable organic dairy cattle breeding programmes. The sensors involved in the project were non-invasive sensors capable of recording objective, animal-centred measurements. The project focussed on three related areas. The first area was the investigation of the use of activity recording sensors for automatically monitoring dairy cattle behaviour patterns, from which health and welfare traits could potentially be identified. The second area sought to validate a methodology using external imaging technology to explore the relationships between behaviour and health with specific reference to automatic calculation of the body condition score of the dairy cow. The third area created a cost-benefit model to identify the impact of new technology in a commercial farm environment.

Initially the project identified the relevant behaviour parameters that could be collected using commercially viable electronic sensors. These were then ranked for importance and likely technical feasibility within the project lifetime. The key parameters identified included overall levels of activity, lying time, lying patterns and body condition score. The project then focused on data capture, data management and validation of information to support the parameters identified, working with successive generations of the activity sensor throughout the project life-time. The automatic collection of information on the key parameters of overall activity levels, lying and standing time, lying bout analysis was validated. The project also successfully validated the consistency and reliability of data collected, moving from small-scale data capture to the automatic and continuous collection of large-scale statistically significant data sets that have potential relevance for both organic and non-organic breeding programmes.

The project investigated how a number of condition protocols such as lameness, feeding behaviour, grazing behaviour, detection of disease and oestrus state could be automatically recorded based on the key measurement parameters available via the sensors. A number of posters and papers were published in these areas in all three areas of project activity. To complement the technical work-programme, the project also explored the economic cost-benefit of adoption of technology. An economic model was developed that is applicable to both organic and non-organic commercial dairy farms. This has now been adopted by the industry partner for use on commercial dairy farms. The project achieved the objectives of defining objective animal-based health and welfare protocols that are applicable in a commercial context for both organic and non-organic dairy cattle production systems.

The project also validated the ability for sensors to generate automatic large scale data sets in a farm environment. It is anticipated that these outcomes may have a positive impact on both practical farm management impact as well as supporting longer term breeding programmes focused on a variety of health and welfare traits contributing to sustainable production.

Reported by

United Kingdom
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