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Forskningsartikel2020Vetenskapligt granskad

Automatic weighing as an animal health monitoring tool on pasture

Segerkvist, Katarina Arvidsson; Hoglund, Johan; Osterlund, Henrik; Wik, Christer; Hogberg, Niclas; Hessle, Anna


This project aimed to evaluate a novel method for monitoring the health of grazing cattle. The method studied in this paper is based on an unmanned, automatic precision weighing system that can be used on pasture, and which will alarm farmers when animals show abnormal weight gain curves. The project focused primarily on the detection of pasture-borne nematode parasite infections, which clearly reduce the weight gain of calves, but the method could be further developed to include other diseases that impair animal performance. The early detection of nematode infections would both improve animal welfare and minimize the use of anthelmintics. This study included a total of 63 first season grazing steers born from dairy cows that were allocated to one of two permanent semi-natural pasture enclosures for 20 weeks. Both enclosures had two identical scales except that one scale was powered with line current and one scale was equipped with solar panels. The automatic weighing stations were situated in close proximity to a source of water, salt and minerals so that animals would voluntarily pass through them on a regular basis. LiveStock Planner (R) software was used to identify usable data. The number of usable recordings per animal throughout the grazing season varied from 547 to 2677 amongst the four weighing stations, with an average of five usable recordings per animal obtained each week. The herds were guided to the weighing area on a daily basis during the first eight weeks of the grazing period to ensure that the steers received enough water. After this period, manual observations were used to verify that all animals entered the watering area without problems. The findings showed that the weighing technique worked well; hence, the developed method demonstrates great potential as an automatic supervision tool for grazing cattle. However, even though the summer of 2016 was quite dry, there was still water available in ditches and puddles. Accordingly, water alone was not a strong enough motivation to get cattle to pass through the weighing station into the watering area. Hence, in grazing areas with natural water sources, a reward more attractive than the water, salt and minerals used in this study is needed to ensure frequent voluntary passage of cattle through the scales.


Cattle; Scale; Weight gain; Animal supervision; Animal welfare; Surveillance

Publicerad i

Livestock Science
2020, Volym: 240, artikelnummer: 104157
Utgivare: ELSEVIER