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The ability of ewes with lambs to learn a virtual fencing system

Brunberg, Emma; Sørheim, Kristin and Bergslid, Ildri (Rose) Kristine (2017) The ability of ewes with lambs to learn a virtual fencing system. Animal, 2017, pp. 1-6.

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Online at: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/animal/article/ability-of-ewes-with-lambs-to-learn-a-virtual-fencing-system/AD5B540CF981C6C654E1676B406F9652

Summary

The Nofence technology is a GPS-based virtual fencing system designed to keep sheep within predefined borders, without using physical fences. Sheep wearing a Nofence collar receive a sound signal when crossing the virtual border and a weak electric shock if continuing to walk out from the virtual enclosure. Two experiments testing the functionality of the Nofence system and a New learning protocol is described. In Experiment 1, nine ewes with their lambs were divided into groups of three and placed in an experimental enclosure with one Nofence border. During 2 days, there was a physical fence outside the border, during Day 3 the physical fence was removed and on Day 4, the border was moved to the other end of the enclosure. The sheep received between 6 and 20 shocks with an average of 10.9 ± 2.0 (mean ± SE) per ewe during all 4 days. The number of shocks decreased from 4.38 ± 0.63 on Day 3 (when the physical fence was removed) to 1.5 ± 0.71 on Day 4 (when the border was moved). The ewes spent on average 3%, 6%, 46% and 9% of their time outside the border on Days 1, 2, 3 and 4, respectively. In Experiment 2,32 ewes, with and without lambs, were divided into groups of eight and placed in an experimental enclosure. On Day 1, the enclosure
was fenced with three physical fences and one virtual border, which was then increased to two virtual borders on Day 2. To continue to Day 3, when there was supposed to be three virtual borders on the enclosure, at least 50% of the ewes in a group should have received a maximum of four shocks on Day 2. None of the groups reached this learning criterion and the experiment ended after Day 2.
The sheep received 4.1 ± 0.32 shocks on Day 1 and 4.7 ± 0.28 shocks on Day 2. In total, 71% of the ewes received the Maximum number of five shocks on Day 1 and 77% on Day 2. The individual ewes spent between 0% and 69.5% of Day 1 in the exclusion zone and between 0% and 64% on Day 2. In conclusion, it is too challenging to ensure an efficient learning and hence, animal welfare cannot be secured. There were technical challenges with the collars that may have affected the results. The Nofence prototype was
unable to keep the sheep within the intended borders, and thus cannot replace physical fencing for sheep.

Summary translation

«Nofence-teknologien er et GPS-basert virtuelt system som er designet for å holde sauer innenfor definerte grenser uten å bruke fysiske gjerder. Sauer får en Nofence-krage som sender et lydsignal når dyret krysser den virtuelle grensen. De får et svakt elektrisk støt hvis de fortsetter å gå ut fra det virtuelle området. To eksperimenter som tester funksjonaliteten til Nofence-systemet er gjennomført.» De får et svakt elektrisk støt hvis man fortsetter å gå ut fra det virtuelle området. To eksperimenter som tester funksjonaliteten til Nofence-systemet er gjennomført.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:Nofence,sheep
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Health and welfare
Environmental aspects > Landscape and recreation
Research affiliation: Norway
Norway > NIBIO – Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research
Norway > NORSØK - Norwegian Centre for Organic Agriculture
Deposited By: Bergslid, Ms Ildri (Rose)
ID Code:31779
Deposited On:21 Jun 2017 08:10
Last Modified:21 Jun 2017 08:10
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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