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Use of GPS tracking collars and accelerometers for rangeland livestock production research
journal contributionposted on 22.10.2018, 00:00 by DW Bailey, Mark TrotterMark Trotter, CW Knight, MG Thomas
Over the last 20 yr, global positioning system (GPS) collars have greatly enhanced livestock grazing behavior research. Practices designed to improve livestock grazing distribution can now be accurately and cost effectively monitored with GPS tracking. 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. Tracking collars have become easier to develop and construct, making them significantly less expensive, which will likely increase their use in livestock grazing management research. 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. Similarly, accelerometers are changing our ability to monitor livestock behavior. Today, accelerometers are sensitive and can record movements at fine temporal scales for periods of weeks to months. The combination of GPS tracking and accelerometers appears 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 and cost-effective. 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. © The Author(s) 2018.