Determination of maternal pedigree and ewe–lamb spatial relationships by application of Bluetooth technology in extensive farming systems Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • The objectives of this study were to validate the application of Bluetooth technology to determine maternal pedigree and to determine ewe-lamb spatial relationships in extensive farming systems. A total of 35 first-cross Merino ewes (Merino × Border Leicester and East Friesian) and 23 of their lambs aged 1 to 3 wk were fitted with activity monitors equipped with Bluetooth (BT) technology (ActiGraph wGT3X-BT) by means of halters and collars, respectively. The BT devices on lambs were programmed to receive wireless signals once every minute from nearby BT units on ewes, which were programmed as beacons sending BT signals 4 times every second. Ewes and lambs fitted with sensors were dispatched into the paddocks, and after 10 d, the sensor units were retrieved and the BT signals received by lambs were downloaded using the ActiGraph software. The maternal pedigree of the lambs was determined as the ewe from which the lamb received the most BT signals. The distance between the lamb receiving the signal and the ewe sending the signal was estimated from the strength of BT signal received. The pedigree determined by BT was compared with the pedigree determined by DNA profiling and verification. The results showed that the accuracy of maternal pedigree determined by BT signals reached 100% within the first 15 min of returning animals to pasture of ewes and lambs fitted with sensors. Maternal signals (counts/d) received by 1-, 2-, and 3-wk-old lambs were 617 ± 102, 603 ± 54, and 498 ± 36, respectively, and the corresponding nonmaternal signals received were 140 ± 27, 106 ± 30, and 155 ± 39, respectively. Maternal signals received during the dark period were significantly higher than the maternal signals received during the light period ( < 0.05). Maternal signals received during the light period by 3-wk-old lambs were significantly lower when compared with those received by 1- and 2-wk-old lambs. Over 90% of the BT signals received from within 2 m of the lamb were from its mother. The maternal BT signals expressed as a portion of total BT signals decreased with increasing distance from the lamb. The results show that BT wireless networking is a fast and reliable method for the determination of maternal pedigree of lambs in extensive farming systems. In addition, wireless BT technology is also useful in determining mother-offspring spatial relationships.

publication date

  • 2017