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Technical note: Validation of a behavior-monitoring collar's precision and accuracy to measure rumination, feeding, and resting time of lactating dairy cows

Grinter, L.N., Campler, M.R., Costa, J.H.C.
Journal of dairy science 2018
Holstein, animal behavior, automation, biometry, collars, dairy cows, dairy farming, dairy technology, farms, feeding behavior, group housing, heat, humans, lactating females, lactation, milk, milk yield, regression analysis, rumination, standard deviation
Precision dairy technology is important because of the possibility to continuously and accurately measure behavior, biometrics, and productivity on commercial and research dairy farms by an automated method with minimal human intervention. The behavior-monitoring collar (BMC) used in this study is a commercially available precision dairy technology (MooMonitor+, Dairymaster, Co. Kerry, Ireland), designed to measure rumination, heat detection, feeding, and resting behavior of dairy cows. The study objective was to compare cow behavior measured by the BMC with visual observations. Twenty-four lactating, group-housed, Holstein dairy cows (mean ± standard deviation; days in milk: 196 ± 101; parity: 2.0 ± 1.1; milk yield: 40.0 ± 9.8 kg/d) were randomly selected for observation at the University of Kentucky's research dairy farm, Lexington). Behavior-monitoring collars were assigned to cows as per farm protocol. Each cow was observed for 240 min within 1 d (0700 to 0900 h, and 1900 to 2100 h). Recordings of rumination, feeding, and resting time (min) by the BMC were compared with visual observation using Pearson correlation, concordance correlation coefficient (CCC), linear regression, and Bland-Altman plots for validation of precision and accuracy. Data from the BMC were considered precise if the correlation coefficient and coefficient of determination were high (>0.70), and mean bias from the Bland-Altman plots included zero with the 95% interval of agreement. The BMC was considered accurate if the slope from the linear regressions did not differ significantly from 1, and the CCC (ρc) were at least moderate (>0.90). We found very high Pearson correlation coefficients (0.99, 0.93, and 0.94) and coefficients of determination (0.97, 0.85, and 0.88) for rumination, feeding, and resting, respectively. Bland-Altman plots were acceptable; the plots did not show any bias. The Bland-Altman mean differences ± standard deviation (BMC – observation) were −7.57 ± 6.31, 15.81 ± 11.84, and −13.03 ± 9.37 min, respectively. The Bland-Altman plot's 95% interval of agreement encompassed 100% of the observations of resting time, and all but one cow's observations for both rumination and feeding time. The slope of the linear regression, however, was different than 1 for all behaviors, and rumination was the only behavior with moderate CCC. In summary, this study validates the high precision of rumination, resting, and feeding behaviors measured by a BMC in lactating dairy cows.