Automated behavioral detection of mastitis in ewes

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Performance Narrative:

Activities Performed


# Accomplishment/Activity Relevance to Objective

1 - Pilot study to establish milk sampling methods and identify prevalence of mastitis in UW Madison flock (March to May 2020)

Developed sound methodology for collecting milk samples that will be used in our Fall 2021 trial which address project objectives 1 and 2

2 - Data analysis of pilot results (June 2020 - ongoing)

        Mastitis was prevalent in ~30% of milk samples. We used this data to determine our sample size for our Fall 2021 trial (objectives 1 and 2)

3 - Animal tracking system fully installed at the UW Madison sheep unit and all personnel trained on how to use it (January to August 2020)

The tracking system records location and accelerometer data, which will be used to develop algorithms to automatically monitor behaviors (Objective 1)                     

Challenges and Developments                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

# Challenge or Development Corrective Action or Project Change

1 Three ewes in the pilot trial developed severe mastitis and could not be milked for sampling.

This will be reported in the publication resulting from the pilot trial. In subsequent trials, we will correct for this possible loss by increasing our sample size

2 - We added udder temperature as a variable in our pilot trial to assess whether this could be a practical indicator of mastitis in ewes.

We will include this measure in subsequent trials.

We will submit an additional manuscript for publication evaluating relationship between udder temperature and mastitis

Outcome and Indicator Results to Date

# Outcome/Indicator Quantifiable Results

1 - An improved understanding of the relationship between behavior and mastitis

Pilot trial: Milk from 15 ewes was sampled weekly for 10 weeks after lambing,

resulting in bacterial and SCC results from 600 duplicate samples, which informed

sample size in the Fall 2021 trial to   evaluate the relationship between

behavior and mastitis

2 - An automated tool for behavioral monitoring

Finished installation of the tracking system used to automatically track sheep position

and acceleration, and all project personnel are trained on its operation.

Upcoming Activities

Anticipated Completion

1 - Fall 2021 trial with 24 ewes to assess the relationship between mastitis presence/severity and behavioral changes. Behaviors will be tracked using tags that continuously record location and accelerometer data of the ewe and her lambs from lambing up to weaning.

December 2021

2 - Conducting initial data analysis on Fall 2021 data and preparing abstract to present at the 2022 International Society of Applied Ethology

Ethology conference Abstract submission:

March 2021 -  Conference presentation:

September 2021

3 - Behavioral algorithms will be created using accelerometer data and video recordings from Fall 2021 trial.

December 2021

4 - Submit manuscript of pilot trial results for publication in Journal of Animal Science

December 2021