Scientists Gave Sober Cows a Drunk Walking Test

One by one, the cows were then guided back and forward through a corridor about 230 feet long (one researcher trailed behind the cow to deter it from turning back but otherwise didn’t interact with it).

It’s the sort of test you would give to suspected drunk drivers, but in this case, the researchers just wanted to collect as much relevant data as possible on the normal walking patterns of a typical dairy cow, in a way that’s apparently never been done before.
“This is the first study that describes the kinematic gait characteristics of straight line walk in clinically sound dairy cows using body mounted IMUs at multiple anatomical locations,” the researchers wrote in their paper.Farmers largely rely on visual inspection of their cows to diagnose an unsteady gait (or lameness, as it’s also called), which can be a sign of more serious problems, including chronic pain or neurological conditions.
But while this method can be fairly reliable for diagnosing severe lameness, it can miss less obvious cases that vets might be able to treat before it worsens.
So the authors think the data signals collected from these tests could be used to help create reliable screening tests for a lame gait, even without the use of dedicated sensors.
“Future analysis of these signals in lame cows will allow us to identify the best features that can be used from IMU data to objectively quantify lameness and might be useful for the development of an automatic recognition method and extensions to computer vision techniques,” they wrote.

1 week, 1 day ago by Masoumeh Shafiei
Animals

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