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Title: A pilot study into the use of global navigation satellite system technology to quantify the behavioural responses of sheep during simulated dog predation events
Contributor(s): Manning, Jaime K (author); Fogarty, Eloise S (author); Trotter, Mark  (author); Schneider, Derek  (author)orcid ; Thomson, Peter C (author); Bush, Russell D (author); Cronin, Greg M (author)
Publication Date: 2014
DOI: 10.1071/AN14221
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Abstract: The predation of sheep ('Ovis aries') by wild and domestic dogs ('Canis lupis') is a major issue in Australia, causing serious welfare issues to inflicted animals. The estimated cost of sheep and cattle production losses caused by wild dogs when combined with an extensive range of control measures, costs the Australian economy AU$66 million annually. Spatio-temporal data derived from global navigation satellite system (GNSS) devices were used to quantify the behavioural responses of two flocks of 15 Merino ewes ranging from 2 to 8 years old (average 4.5 years) during simulated dog predation events. Each sheep was fitted with a GNSS collar, and the behavioural responses of the sheep were video recorded during six trials (three per flock). The behavioural data collated from video recordings were then compared with the movement metrics derived from the GNSS collars. Derived metrics include the spatial distribution of flock members, speed of animal movement and specific behavioural changes including centripetal rotation (circling behaviour of the flock, with individual sheep seeking the centre). While the spatial distribution data did not appear to be specific enough to enable identification of a predation event, the velocity of sheep was higher (P < 0.001) during compared with before and after a simulated dog predation event. Centripetal rotation occurred in 80% of the simulated predation events during this study, and may provide a means for identifying predation. The spatio-temporal data from GNSS devices have potential as a research tool to assist in understanding sheep movement patterns during a dog attack. While further research and mathematical modelling of predation events is clearly required, the application of remote sensing technology has the potential to improve future livestock monitoring.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Animal Production Science, 54(10), p. 1676-1681
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Place of Publication: Australia
ISSN: 1836-5787
Field of Research (FOR): 070104 Agricultural Spatial Analysis and Modelling
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 830311 Sheep - Wool
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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