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GPS tagging shows us more about cow behavior

by GPS4US 2013-07-03 19:53
How much do we really know about cows?

Well, thanks to GPS tagging, we’re starting to learn a bit more about our livestock. Dr. Les Sandles has seen herd size increase over the last 20 years, and wondered how members of these large herds adapt their behavior.

Sandles is running a project through Dairy SA and Dairy Australia in which he installs GPS devices on cows in large herds. So far, the GPS data has told him that cows who wait a long time before milking are less likely to spend time grazing back in the field. Essentially, Sandles said, cows milked late will, instead of grazing, to back to their paddock and lay down.

“We know they’re trading off grazing time for standing around in the yard,” Sandles told abc.net. “So one of the key things that have come out at this early stage is that we need to be able to milk each heard quite quickly.”

Certainly, as the tagging advances, Sandles will use GPS data to find more fascinating discoveries. Sandles’ findings could raise questions about the way farmers manage their cattle in large herds. Sandles documented distances and speed traveled by the cows and identified modified behaviors between the herd leaders and followers, including grazing, feeding and lying down times.

Sandles says that one bit of motivation for the project was to examine whether larger herds meant increased malnutrition in cows.

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