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Article

What Are Sheep Doing? Tri-Axial Accelerometer Sensor Data Identify the Diel Activity Pattern of Ewe Lambs on Pasture

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School of Veterinary Science, Massey University, Palmerston North 4410, New Zealand
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College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Agriculture, Makurdi 970231, Nigeria
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EpiCentre, School of Veterinary Science, Massey University, Palmerston North 4410, New Zealand
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School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, University of Adelaide, Roseworthy 5371, Australia
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School of Agriculture and Environment, Massey University, Palmerston North 4410, New Zealand
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Craig Michie, Ivan Andonovic and Christos Tachtatzis
Sensors 2021, 21(20), 6816; https://doi.org/10.3390/s21206816
Received: 10 September 2021 / Revised: 6 October 2021 / Accepted: 8 October 2021 / Published: 13 October 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors for Animal Health Monitoring and Precision Livestock Farming)
Monitoring activity patterns of animals offers the opportunity to assess individual health and welfare in support of precision livestock farming. The purpose of this study was to use a triaxial accelerometer sensor to determine the diel activity of sheep on pasture. Six Perendale ewe lambs, each fitted with a neck collar mounting a triaxial accelerometer, were filmed during targeted periods of sheep activities: grazing, lying, walking, and standing. The corresponding acceleration data were fitted using a Random Forest algorithm to classify activity (=classifier). This classifier was then applied to accelerometer data from an additional 10 ewe lambs to determine their activity budgets. Each of these was fitted with a neck collar mounting an accelerometer as well as two additional accelerometers placed on a head halter and a body harness over the shoulders of the animal. These were monitored continuously for three days. A classification accuracy of 89.6% was achieved for the grazing, walking and resting activities (i.e., a new class combining lying and standing activity). Triaxial accelerometer data showed that sheep spent 64% (95% CI 55% to 74%) of daylight time grazing, with grazing at night reduced to 14% (95% CI 8% to 20%). Similar activity budgets were achieved from the halter mounted sensors, but not those on a body harness. These results are consistent with previous studies directly observing daily activity of pasture-based sheep and can be applied in a variety of contexts to investigate animal health and welfare metrics e.g., to better understand the impact that young sheep can suffer when carrying even modest burdens of parasitic nematodes. View Full-Text
Keywords: sheep; diel activity; classification algorithm; tri-axial accelerometers; health monitoring sheep; diel activity; classification algorithm; tri-axial accelerometers; health monitoring
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MDPI and ACS Style

Ikurior, S.J.; Marquetoux, N.; Leu, S.T.; Corner-Thomas, R.A.; Scott, I.; Pomroy, W.E. What Are Sheep Doing? Tri-Axial Accelerometer Sensor Data Identify the Diel Activity Pattern of Ewe Lambs on Pasture. Sensors 2021, 21, 6816. https://doi.org/10.3390/s21206816

AMA Style

Ikurior SJ, Marquetoux N, Leu ST, Corner-Thomas RA, Scott I, Pomroy WE. What Are Sheep Doing? Tri-Axial Accelerometer Sensor Data Identify the Diel Activity Pattern of Ewe Lambs on Pasture. Sensors. 2021; 21(20):6816. https://doi.org/10.3390/s21206816

Chicago/Turabian Style

Ikurior, Seer J., Nelly Marquetoux, Stephan T. Leu, Rene A. Corner-Thomas, Ian Scott, and William E. Pomroy 2021. "What Are Sheep Doing? Tri-Axial Accelerometer Sensor Data Identify the Diel Activity Pattern of Ewe Lambs on Pasture" Sensors 21, no. 20: 6816. https://doi.org/10.3390/s21206816

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