Main research question/goal
With GAITWISE – a system for automatic gait analysis for dairy cattle – ILVO daily analyses the gait of all dairy cattle based on spatio-temporal parameters. This device allows us to separate lame from non-lame cows on a group level. At the individual cow level, however, the system needs some further improvement in order to contribute to early detection of lameness in dairy cattle. Besides a clear advantage for the animal, there is also an economic advantage linked to early detection and treatment of lameness on a dairy farm. This research project is part of a European ICT-Agri project (SILF: Smart Integrated Livestock Farming).
Together with K.U. Leuven, ILVO investigates whether the use of Synergistic Process Control (SGC, a method to statistically analyse data) can improve the early detection of lameness with GAITWISE. Also cost-benefit analyses are performed together with exploring the possibilities to downscale the current technology in order to lower the cost of the device. Other sensors (pedometers, 3D accelerometers, Stepmetrix, etc.) are also investigated for providing additional information about dairy cows’ gait and which parameters are exactly the most promising for the monitoring of leg problems in dairy cattle. Finally, the inhibiting and stimulating factors for the use of sensor technology for lameness detection for dairy farmers are investigated.
By using synergistic control, the detection level is no longer set to a group level but to an individual level. Thereby typical characteristics specific to a dairy cow can be accounted for in the determination of the detection limit. Early detection of lameness allows a fast response to the problem and limits the economic losses for the dairy farmers. Cost-benefit analyses chart the losses and potential decrease in losses for dairy farmers. Thorough analysis of the objectives and incentives helps the researchers and the dairy industry to get the system market-ready.