Indikator für Wohlbefinden und virtuelles Zaunsystem
A virtual fencing system serves as an enclosure without a physical barrier. Its application could reduce management costs and thus has the potential to prevent the abandonment of marginal land and subsequent biodiversity loss. In addition, virtual fencing systems can protect wildlife by preventing injuries and fatalities caused by physical fences. However, their use requires animal-friendly training and keeping of livestock. To assess the animal welfare effects, field trials will be conducted and a new automated welfare indicator based on the activity rhythm will be evaluated. As constant rhythms are characteristic of a healthy organism and stressors may disturb rhythmicity, the activity rhythm could be a promising marker to assess the animal's state. In particular, it will be tested whether changes in rhythmic behavioural patterns may reflect health- and distress-related challenges in cows such as rumen acidosis, weaning and metabolic imbalances.