Uses of an Ear Tag Based Behavioral and Temperature Monitoring System (Cow ManagerR) at the ISU Dairy
Animal movement monitors have been researched since the 1990’s. The advent of accelerometer technology into these monitors coupled with wireless technologies to transmit data, and finally sophisticated algorithms and software to transcribe data to graphical and easy to use decision tools on animal behavior has resulted in many recent behavioral monitor systems becoming commercially available for animals and people. For dairy, many of the systems are neck based on collars, but a recent one has incorporated the accelerometer into an eartag that also has a temperature sensor. At Iowa State University, 36animals were fitted with an ear tag based behavior and temperature monitor (Cow Manager, Agis Automatisering, Netherlands) to evaluate behavior and ear temperature change and learn the system. Tags were put on breeding age heifers, lactating cows, and transition cows. 34 other tags were acquired and put on transition cows. The system has served multiple purposes at the ISU Dairy. These include monitoring of animals and the herd from a commercial herd standpoint;teaching tool to introduce and embed undergraduate, graduate, and veterinary studentsin the technology(7 classes to date);a platform for 5 undergraduate independent studies to date;and utilized in 5research projects to date including heat stress, calving behavior, LPS challenge model, calves, and evaluating animals as they adjust to Calan gate feeders. The system has also been a platform for extension presentations both at the ISU Dairy as well as many extension meetings and invited conferences and presentations. The behavior monitoring system has resulted in an excellent herd monitoring and decision system, as well as a teaching, research, and extension tool. The purpose of this report is to discussthese uses and give some examples of the systems output on behavior and temperatures and decisions associated or implemented as a result of that information.