Part of a research project by the School of Agriculture at Newcastle University in the UK is employing RFID technology to study changes in animal feeding behavior which may indicate the early signs of disease.
The tracking system uses RFID chips fitted into the ear tag of each animal and short-range antenna mounted to their feeding troughs which tracks the feeding behavior and alerts farmers to any change that might indicate the animal is unwell.
“Just as we know when we are sickening for something because we perhaps lose our appetite or feel more lethargic, animals also demonstrate subtle changes in behavior when unwell,” said Ollie Szyszka, a PhD student in Newcastle University’s School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development. “The aim was to help farmers spot any illness in the herd much earlier on and treat the animals more effectively.”
The animals have also been fitted with pedometers which allow the Newcastle team to measure posture, relaying information about how active the calf is and how much time they spend lying down.