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Examination of GPS Collar Capabilities and Limitations for Tracking Animal Movement in Grazed Watershed Studies

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  032001,  2003 ASAE Annual Meeting . (doi: 10.13031/2013.14934) @2003
Authors:   C.T. Agouridis, T.S. Stombaugh, S.R. Workman, B.K. Koostra, D.R. Edwards
Keywords:   Global positioning system, livestock behavior, grazing, accuracy, management practices

The traditional means of tracking animal location in a field is by visual observation. Not only is this method labor intensive, it is also prone to error as the observer can alter cattle movement, observation periods are often too short to obtain confidence in general daily behavior patterns, and observer fatigue becomes an issue. In the 1990s, the University of Kentucky began using GPS collars on cattle to track their position with the goal of incorporating this information into cattle management practices. One of the key unanswered questions regarding the GPS collars is the accuracy of the position data recorded by the collar. Static and dynamic tests have been conducted on up to 16 GPS collars to access the accuracies, capabilities and limitations of using GPS collars to track animal movement in grazed watersheds. Static tests were conducted in an open field, under trees, and near fence lines to ascertain the impacts of various field features on collar performance. Dynamic tests were carried out to examine the errors associated with the collars while operated under "real-world" conditions. Results from these tests will assist researchers in the development of experiments based on collar capabilities and limitations.

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