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Article

The Use of an Activity Monitoring System for the Early Detection of Health Disorders in Young Bulls

1
Animal Nutrition and Welfare Service, Department of Animal and Food Sciences, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Spain
2
Lallemand SAS, R&D Animal Nutrition, 31702 Blagnac, France
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(11), 924; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9110924
Received: 20 October 2019 / Revised: 2 November 2019 / Accepted: 3 November 2019 / Published: 5 November 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biotechnology in Animals' Management, Health and Welfare 2019)
In large intensive beef production systems, the identification of sick animals is difficult. We hypothesized that sick bulls would change daily activities when sick. Thus, the use of activity monitoring devices might allow for the early identification of sick bulls. The device used measured steps counts, lying time, lying bouts, and frequency and time at the feed bunk. Sick bulls started to behave differently from healthy bulls at least 10 days before the appearance of clinical signs. The prediction model identified bulls at risk of becoming sick 9 days before the visual diagnostic based on the time attending to the feed bunk, the time lying, and the frequency of lying bouts. The validation indicated that the prediction resulted in 50% false positives and 7% false negatives. Activity monitoring systems may be useful tools to identify bulls at risk of becoming sick.
Bulls (n = 770, average age = 127 days, SD = 53 days of age) were fitted with an activity monitoring device for three months to study if behavior could be used for early detection of diseases. The device measured the number of steps, lying time, lying bouts, and frequency and time of attendance at the feed bunk. All healthy bulls (n = 699) throughout the trial were used to describe the normal behavior. A match-pair test was used to assign healthy bulls for the comparison vs. sick bulls. The model was developed with 70% of the data, and the remaining 30% was used for the validation. Healthy bulls did 2422 ± 128 steps/day, had 28 ± 1 lying bouts/day, spent 889 ± 12 min/day lying, and attended the feed bunk 8 ± 0.2 times/d for a total of 95 ± 8 min/day. From the total of bulls enrolled in the study, 71 (9.2%) were diagnosed sick. Their activities changed at least 10 days before the clinical signs of disease. Bulls at risk of becoming sick were predicted 9 days before clinical signs with a sensitivity and specificity of 79% and 81%, respectively. The validation of the model resulted in a sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of 92%, 42%, and 82 %, respectively, and a 50% false positive and 12.5% false negative rates. Results suggest that activity-monitoring systems may be useful in the early identification of sick bulls. However, the high false positive rate may require further refinement. View Full-Text
Keywords: beef cattle; activity monitoring; behavior; diseases beef cattle; activity monitoring; behavior; diseases
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MDPI and ACS Style

Belaid, M.A.; Rodriguez-Prado, M.; Chevaux, E.; Calsamiglia, S. The Use of an Activity Monitoring System for the Early Detection of Health Disorders in Young Bulls. Animals 2019, 9, 924. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9110924

AMA Style

Belaid MA, Rodriguez-Prado M, Chevaux E, Calsamiglia S. The Use of an Activity Monitoring System for the Early Detection of Health Disorders in Young Bulls. Animals. 2019; 9(11):924. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9110924

Chicago/Turabian Style

Belaid, Mohammed A., Maria Rodriguez-Prado, Eric Chevaux, and Sergio Calsamiglia. 2019. "The Use of an Activity Monitoring System for the Early Detection of Health Disorders in Young Bulls" Animals 9, no. 11: 924. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9110924

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