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Predicting Calving on a Lifting Tail

15 April 2015

GLOBAL - Tail mounted sensor systems on cows can detect the onset of calving, researchers have found.

Many patterns of cow behaviour alter in the run up to parturition, with tail movement being proven to depart from the norm, the British Society of Animal Science conference heard yesterday.

Speaking to delegates in Chester, UK, Dr Dave Ross of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) said the team had worked on a system with a six hour warning.

He underlined the economic and welfare implications to beef and dairy operations. 

Figures on dystocia show a cost to the UK farmer of £110 per cow in mild cases and above £400 per cow in severe cases.

“Dystocia is an increasing issue across many countries,” said Dr Ross. “Canada, Denmark, the UK and Sweden are all reporting a rise and the USA stands out particularly.”

US farmers suffer a dystocia rate of 13.7 per cent compared to 1.1 per cent in Norway, he added. Australian losses average 20 per cent in maiden beef heifers and can be as high 40 per cent.

The method, which involves an accelerometer affixed to the tail with a combination of glue and vet wrap, can optimise timing of interventions where necessary, making more efficient use of skilled labour on the farm.

Dr Ross said: “Progressively we see bigger farms and this often means herd size to keeper ration grows in both dairy and beef animals.”

A 'tail raise signature' was charted and the team looked at classifying an algorithm for  tail raise events.

Michael Priestley

Michael Priestley
News Team - Editor

Mainly production and market stories on ruminants sector. Works closely with sustainability consultants at FAI Farms


Top image via Shutterstock

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