Animal : an international journal of animal bioscience | 3 Oct 2014
C DuBois, E Zakrajsek, DB Haley and K Merkies
Examining the characteristics of an animal’s lying behaviour, such as frequency and duration of lying bouts, has become increasingly relevant for animal welfare research. Triaxial accelerometers have the advantage of being able to continuously monitor an animal’s standing and lying behaviour without relying on live observations or video recordings. Multiple models of accelerometers have been validated for use in monitoring dairy cattle; however, no units have been validated for use in equines. This study tested Onset Pendant G data loggers attached to the hind limb of each of two mature Standardbred horses for a period of 5 days. Data loggers were set to record their position every 20 s. Horses were monitored via live observations during the day and by video recordings during the night to compare activity against accelerometer data. All lying events occurred overnight (three to five lying bouts per horse per night). Data collected from the loggers was converted and edited using a macro program to calculate the number of bouts and the length of time each animal spent lying down by hour and by day. A paired t-test showed no significant difference between the video observations and the output from the data loggers (P=0.301). The data loggers did not distinguish standing hipshot from standing square. Predictability, sensitivity, and specificity were all >99%. This study has validated the use of Onset Pendant G data loggers to determine the frequency and duration of standing and lying bouts in adult horses when set to sample and register readings at 20 s intervals.
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