Student Research

Tri-axial accelerometers for quantification of activity levels in calves

Accelerometers are commercially available in devices that are used to quantify human and pet activity. One such tri-axial accelerometer that is marketed to dog-lovers who wish to quantify their pet activity levels is called the FitBark2. It is a small device with a relatively long (6-month) battery life and the capability for wireless data collection. The current study determined whether the Fitbark2 device could be used to quantify the activity levels of large farm animals, such as calves. This is important, because use of the FitBark2 in large animal research depends on validating the instrument and on understanding the limitations of the technology. Fitbark2 accelerometers were attached to 10 calves using a soft vet-wrap bandage around the neck. Animal activity was recorded continuously for three days. On four different occasions, each animal's activity was monitored and scored every 30 seconds for a 30-minute period. The observer classified activity into categories, 1-4 (resting to highly active). This data was compared with minute-by-minute raw data from the FitBark2 (activity points). FitBark data correlated well with periods of rest and activity and may be useful for quantifying daily activity levels in large animals.