The use of sensor data before parturition as an indicator of resilience of dairy cows in early lactation

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paperAcademic


The transition period is a critical phase in the life of dairy cows. Metabolic and
infectious disorders occur mostly in the first weeks after calving. These disorders
can be considered as critical transitions for which early-warning indicators might
be available following the theory of resilience of biological systems. Sensor data
might be useful to notice early-warning signals like slower recovery from
perturbations, increased autocorrelations and increased variance. Sensor data
(measuring activity and behaviour) and extensive reference data were collected
for a group of 22 dairy cows during a period from 2 weeks prior to expected
parturition until 6 weeks after parturition. During this period the cows were
scored daily for health status. The number of days of diminished health (DDH)
were used a health measure of a cow. The correlations of the log-transformed
DDH with several sensor quantities were determined. Correlations with average
values were significant (*) for inactive time and eating time. Correlations with
variances were significant (*) for ear temperature and number of steps.
Correlations with autocorrelations were not significant. Correlations with
nonperiodicity were significant for eating time (*), number of steps (**), motion
index (**) and lying time (***); where nonperiodicity was defined as the mean
squared error of the correlogram with a sinusoid with a 24h cycle and an
amplitude of 0.25. The high correlations before parturition of some sensor data
with nonperiodicity might be used as indicator for critical transitions after
parturition. Further research is needed to validate whether a regular life may
prevent disorders in dairy cows.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPrecision Livestock Farming '17
Subtitle of host publicationPapers presented at the 8th European Conference on Precision Livestock Farming
EditorsD. Berckmans, A. Keita
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017
Event8th European Conference on Precision Livestock Farming - Nantes, France
Duration: 12 Sep 201714 Sep 2017
Conference number: 8


Conference8th European Conference on Precision Livestock Farming
City Nantes


  • dairy cows
  • transition
  • sensors
  • circadian rhythm
  • early warning

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