BELGIUM – Placing microphones in calf pens to listen to coughing can assist stock keepers in detecting Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) earlier.
By producing an acoustic profile of poorly calves, an algorithm can be created to automate BRD detection, a Belgian study has shown.
Pioneered in pigs, automated cough sound monitoring is one of many breakthroughs in the field of precision livestock science, according to Joris Vandemeulen at Kuleuven University.
He told the British Society for Animal Science conference in Chester this week that using microphones can work for BRD as a "warning system".
“The purpose of this study was to compare results of an automated calf cough detection algorithm with respiratory scores in calves,” said Mr Vandemeulen.
"The number of coughs detected by the algorithm corresponded with the number of calves with high respiratory scores."
He stressed the study only tested the microphones at house level, unable to identify BRD in individual calves.
“This is more of a help to the farmer than a substitute for stockmanship," he said.
During the experiment, each pen was equipped with a pig cough monitor, achieving 58 per cent sensitivity, 99 per cent specificity and 76 per cent precision.
There were three pens of 20 calves of Holstein-Friesian and Jersey breed. Clinical assessments were carried out on calves twice a week.
Mr Vandameulen admitted that health assessments left periods when calf health was unknown.
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