Use of a Tri-Axial Accelerometer Can Reliably Detect Play Behaviour in Newborn Calves
Scottish Centre for Production Animal Health and Food Safety, University of Glasgow School of Veterinary Medicine, Bearsden Road, Glasgow G61 1QH, UK
Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health & Comparative Medicine, University of Glasgow Garscube Estate, Bearsden Road, Glasgow G61 1QH, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 28 May 2020 / Revised: 29 June 2020 / Accepted: 2 July 2020 / Published: 5 July 2020
Traditionally, health and production measures have been used to assess farm animal welfare, but these do not encompass all aspects of welfare. In recent years, the concept of “positive animal welfare” has been gaining momentum, in line with the notion that a good animal life prevents negative experiences and also promotes positive experiences. Play behaviour is considered to be a good indicator of positive animal welfare. Accelerometers (movement sensors) worn by animals can be used to monitor activity as a proxy for different behaviours in a much less time-consuming manner than traditional behavioural observations. In this study, we assessed whether a commercially available leg-mounted accelerometer could reliably identify play behaviour in newborn dairy calves. Our results showed that accelerometer technology can be used to identify the amount of play behaviour exhibited by newborn calves in the first 48 h of life, and we discuss its potential for use in the assessment of the welfare of newborn calves in the future.