Calf48hour: Sensor based detection of calving events and maternal behaviour around parturition
Calf mortality remains a key issue for the northern cattle industry with impacts on production and welfare. However, the causes of calf loss across different properties and seasons remain difficult to identify. Previous research undertaken by CQU and CSU has developed the Calf Alert device, an intervaginal implantable device that transmits radio signals upon expulsion during the calving event. Whilst the device provides accurate information on when the parturition event occurred, the low spatial accuracy of the data means that locating exactly where the cow calved remains a challenge. Emerging on-animal sensors can provide more reliable information on the location and behaviour of livestock and when matched with the calf alert device may enable accurate identification of both the timing and location of the event. In addition, animal sensors may enable the identification of key maternal behaviours. Some behaviours such as shade seeking, social isolation and walking distance may be directly related to adverse calf survival outcomes. This project will explore the potential for several sensors to be integrated to provide the information required to enable researchers and producers to better understand the causes of calf loss in extensive rangeland environments.