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ARS Home » Plains Area » Las Cruces, New Mexico » Range Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #332015

Research Project: MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGIES FOR CONSERVATION OF WESTERN RANGELANDS

Location: Range Management Research

Title: Use of an unmanned aerial vehicle-mounted video camera to assess feeding behavior of Raramuri Criollo cows

Author
item Nyamuryekung'e, S - New Mexico State University
item Cibils, Andres - New Mexico State University
item Estell, Richard - Rick
item Gonzalez, Alfredo

Submitted to: Rangeland Ecology and Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/26/2016
Publication Date: 9/5/2016
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/5271639
Citation: Nyamuryekung'e, S., Cibils, A., Estell, R.E., Gonzalez, A.L. 2016. Use of an unmanned aerial vehicle-mounted video camera to assess feeding behavior of Raramuri Criollo cows. Rangeland Ecology and Management. 69:386-389.

Interpretive Summary: Use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for scientific purposes has increased in recent years. We tested the possibility of using video monitoring of cattle to predict intake of food by Raramuri Criollo beef cows. Cows were released into a pen, either in pairs (preliminary experiment) or individually (main experiment), that contained food bowls with alfalfa hay, sudangrass hay, or cottonseed cake. Video footage was acquired with a quadcopter fitted with a digital camera. Video files were processed to determine cow feeding activity. Cows that were had not been exposed to the sound of the UAV fed as frequently as their adapted counterparts during the preliminary experiment. Feeding frequency estimates from the video footage were positively correlated with amount of each food consumed during the main experiment. These results suggest that UAV video monitoring could be a useful tool to monitor feeding behavior of rangeland cows.

Technical Abstract: We determined the feasibility of using unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) video monitoring to predict intake of discrete food items of rangeland-raised Raramuri Criollo non-nursing beef cows. Thirty-five cows were released into a 405-m2 rectangular dry lot, either in pairs (pilot tests) or individually (experiment tests), that contained 12 food bowls arranged in an open semicircle and placed approximately 1 m apart. Four bowls containing either long alfalfa hay (AH, 200 g), long Sudangrass hay (SH, 200 g), or cottonseed cake (CC, 50 g) were alternated (CC, AH, SH) using the same sequence in all tests. Video footage of all arena tests was acquired with a three-dimensional Robotics Y6 Multi-copter fitted with a two-axis brushless gimbal and a GoPro Hero 3 Silver Digital Camera. Video files were processed to extract a total of 4893 two-second-interval still images that were viewed to determine cow feeding activity. Cows that were naïve to the sound of the UAV fed as frequently (P > 0.05) as their adapted counterparts during 12-min pilot tests. Significant positive correlations (r = 0.68-0.91; P < 0.05) between video-derived feeding frequency estimates and amount of AH, SH, and CC consumed per bowl were observed during the individual 4-min experiment tests. Our results suggest that UAV video monitoring could be a useful tool to monitor feeding behavior of rangeland cows.