Small ruminant production systems are found in diverse contexts, including extensive grazing regions, where environmental conditions can be harsh and day to day supervision of animals challenging. In addition, farmers within these systems may lack access to, or not be aware of, technologies that may help to improve performance, efficiency and welfare. As part of the H2020 TechCare project, a series of pilot studies have been set up in 5 partner countries to explore the application of technologies to address different welfare priorities, as identified by industry stakeholder groups in each country. In the UK, these priorities included nutritional issues (under/malnutrition), poor maternal relationships and health problems (particularly lameness, mastitis and endoparasites). Two pilot studies have been set-up one at SRUC’s Hill & Mountain Research Farm in the West Highlands and the other at MRI’s Firth Mains Farm in Midlothian. The technologies investigated on these units include the use of low frequency electronic identification (EID) enabled equipment (eg. weigh crates and stick readers), proximity and ID loggers (Bluetooth beacons and ultra-high frequency (UHF) tags and reader systems), accelerometers, GNSS trackers, and electronic weather stations. In addition to live weight and body condition score data collection, and in-field observation work including measures of gut parasitic infections (for MRI pilot), regular welfare assessments of the animals are being carried out using the Animal Welfare Indicator (AWIN) protocols. Through a series of different studies covering in combination most of the sheep production cycle (pregnancy; lambing; summer rearing period; weaning and post weaning of lambs) and which will be detailed in this paper, the suitability of these technologies to improve our understanding of the welfare issues highlighted, and potentially to act as an early warning indicator, are being assessed.
|Title of host publication||Book of Abstracts of the 74th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science|
|Publisher||Wageningen Academic Publishers|
|Publication status||First published - 28 Aug 2023|
|Event||74th EAAP ANNUAL MEETING - Lyon, France|
Duration: 26 Aug 2023 → 1 Sept 2023
|Conference||74th EAAP ANNUAL MEETING|
|Period||26/08/23 → 1/09/23|