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A checklist to validate sensor output for the recording of cattle behaviour

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

  • Matthieu Bouchon, Université Clermont Auvergne, France
  • Alex Bach, Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avancats (ICREA), Barcelona, Spain
  • Bruno Meunier, Université Clermont Auvergne, France
  • Emma Matilda Ternman
  • ,
  • Kees Van Reenen, Wageningen University & Research, Netherlands
  • Isabelle Veissier, Université Clermont Auvergne, France
  • Lene Munksgaard
A process of validation assesses the appropriateness and usefulness of a tool for its intended purpose within a specific context. Ideally, the validation of a tool should describe the range of purposes and contexts in which it is appropriate. In general this cannot be accomplished completely. Therefore, when such a wide validation cannot be done, the validation process needs to refer clearly to the purpose of the use of the tool and to which animals it is going to be applied.

The technological development has led to an increase in the number of sensors and devices that are available for measuring cattle behaviour. The technical solutions behind the sensors can differ substantially, sensors use accelerometer technology, sound recording or image analysis to mention some, and even within each solution, there is a large amount of factors that can influence the quality of the sensor’s information output or battery capacity. The raw data from the sensor is usually translated through algorithms to estimate the behaviours in question and such algorithms may vary in the way they work. There might be data points for individual animals or whole groups missing for some periods. The attachment of the sensor itself sometimes may affect the animals’ behaviour. Furthermore, some sensors are developed for use on commercial farms and others for research use only, with differences in precision and accuracy. A careful evaluation of the purpose and validation of the outputs from sensors for measuring cattle behaviour is required before use (Figure 1). To be able to compare the output from different devices across facilities a standardized validation protocol would be helpful. Therefore, a sensor validation guidance has been included with this chapter which discusses important factors that can affect the outcome of a validation. For instance: be aware that a system that has been validated for small ruminants may not be valid for cattle, and vice-versa. Indeed the anatomy of the animal is already a difference that should be considered when testing a behaviour sensor.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMethods in cattle physiology and behaviour research : recommendations from the SmartCow consortium
EditorsSadjad Danesh Mesgaran, René Baumont, Lene Munksgaard, David Humphries, Emer Kennedy, Jan Dijkstra, Richard Dewherst, Holly Ferguson, Marta Terré, Björn Kuhla
Place of publicationDummerstorf
PublisherLeibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology (FBN)
Publication year2021
Article numbermcpb014
Publication statusPublished - 2021

    Research areas

  • automated monitoring, animal welfare

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