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Application Of Gps Technology in Grazing Livestock

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According to Steinfeld et al (2006) and Robinson et al (2014), it is estimated that at least one-quarter of the Earth’s land surface is utilized for grazing livestock. This makes livestock production the most predominant human activity on Earth in terms of the land area under manipulation. In rangeland ecology and management, animal husbandry practices, ethology as well as animal nutrition, the study of behavior in grazing livestock and wildlife plays an important role as it designates the interactions between grazing animals and their environment.

It has been shown that studies of livestock behavior can help serve three purposes; the determination of activity may enable better management to improve animal performance such as lactation and reproduction. According to Lockyer and Champion (2001), the study of animal behavior may enhance the cognizance of animals’ usage of vegetation or feed on supply and lastly it can aid as a health measure. Bouten et al (2013), states that incorporation of tri-axial accelerometers and GPS in animals, with technology now going far beyond notebooks and binoculars, dispenses us with an answer to study the whereabouts and behavior of animals on an accurate and near endless basis. The evolution of gradually more powerful electronic instruments with higher sensitivity and substantial data storage capacity initiates new prospects for studying animal activity. These devices ease behavior studies under conditions where manual observations could be laborious. Examples of these situation include; in mountain environments, during night grazing, or at very unreachable spots.

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According to Brown et al (2013) and Shephard et al (2008), an accelerometer is one of the sensors commonly used to record the amount of activity of animals. Tri-axial accelerometers attached to animals usually give a complete picture of the activity patterns and let the collection of data from animals in a non-invasive manner. Notwithstanding the fact that, observation by man is still the most frequent means of behavior evaluation, various devices for automatic recording of grazing behavior in general and of specific aspects for instance animal location, walking speed and head or body position have been advanced during the past 20 years.

Since the mid-1990s, the use of global positioning system (GPS) technology has rapidly advanced to a standard method: GPS units moulded in neck collars were used in studies on habitat use and tracking routes of wild ungulates like caribou and moose, of feral camels and of elephant. GPS technology was used to study grazing areas of hillsheep, and tracking routes and pasture use of cattle.

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