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Use of GPS tracking collars and accelerometers for rangeland livestock production research

journal contribution
posted on 2018-06-28, 00:00 authored by DW Bailey, Mark TrotterMark Trotter, CW Knight, MG Thomas
Global positioning system (GPS) collars have been used to track livestock in research studies for over 20 years. Accelerometers are commonly combined with GPS on commercial tracking collars. Today, accelerometers are sensitive and can record movements at fine temporal scales for periods of weeks to months. Tracking collars have become easier to develop and construct, making them significantly less expensive than commercially available collars. The primary use of GPS tracking has been to document livestock spatial movements and to evaluate management practices designed to manipulate grazing distribution patterns. For example, cattle use of feed supplement placed in areas far from water and on steep slopes can be measured with GPS tracking and corresponding impacts on distribution patterns estimated. Ongoing research has identified genetic markers that are associated with cattle spatial movement patterns. If the results can be validated, genetic selection for grazing distribution may become feasible. Some research questions can be designed so that dependent variables are measured by spatial movements of livestock, and in such cases, GPS tracking is a practical tool for conducting studies on extensive and rugged rangeland pastures. The combination of GPS tracking and accelerometers appear to be useful tools for identifying changes in livestock behavior that are associated with livestock diseases and other welfare concerns. Recent technological advancements may make real time or near-real time tracking on rangelands feasible. This would allow development of applications that could remotely monitor livestock well-being on extensive rangeland and notify ranchers when animals require treatment or other management.





Suppl. 4

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Oxford University Press, USA

Peer Reviewed

  • Yes

Open Access

  • No

External Author Affiliations

New Mexico State University, University of Maine, Colorado State University, USA

Author Research Institute

  • Institute for Future Farming Systems

Era Eligible

  • No


Journal of Animal Science