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J Dairy Sci. 2001 Apr;84(4):792-8.

Detection and characterization of estrus in dairy cattle with an electronic heatmount detector and an electronic activity tag.

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Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana 61801, USA.


The length and onset of estrus was studied in 71 lactating dairy cows using an electronic heatmount sensor (HeatWatch; DDx Inc., Boulder, CO, DeForest, WI) and an electronic activity tag (Heat Seeker, Boumatic, Madison, WI). Three methods were used to determine estrus: 1) the electronic heatmount system, 2) an increased activity ratio algorithm determined by the Heat Seeker, and 3) an increased activity count algorithm calculated for each estrous period. Mounting and physical activity variables were characterized, and the effects of synchrony, parity, and weather on these variables were determined with data from two different trials. Cows in trial 1 were not synchronized, while cows in trial 2 were synchronized. The results of the study were consistent as follows: mean numbers of mounts were 6.70 +/- 0.7 and 5.42 +/- 0.80 for trials 1 and 2, respectively; each mount lasted 3.20 +/- 0.19 s (trial 1) and 3.36 +/- 0.42 s (trial 2). Total mounting activity averaged 5.83 +/- 0.78 h per estrous period in trial 1 and 5.57 +/- 1.02 h in trial 2. Estrus identified by the increased activity count algorithm corresponded more closely to standing mount activity (determined by the HeatWatch System) than did the increased activity ratio algorithm. Synchrony, parity, and weather did not have a direct effect on physical activity. Hot weather decreased the duration of standing mount activity significantly, but did not affect the number or duration of individual mounts. All three methods of estrus detection employed improved the efficiency of detection over visual observation.

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