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Using GPS tracking collars and sensors to monitor the grazing activity of grazing goats in forest rangeland
* 1 , 1 , 2 , 3 , 1
1  Regional Center of Agricultural Research of Tangier, National Institute of Agricultural Research (INRA), Avenue Ennasr, BP 415 Rabat Principale, Rabat 10090, Morocco
2  Department of Veterinary Management of Animal Resources, FARAH, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Liège, 4000 Liège, Belgium
3  Department of Animal Production and Pastoralism, Ecole Nationale d’Agriculture de Meknès, Meknes 50001, Morocco
Academic Editor: Francisco Falcone


The recent development of the Global Positioning System (GPS) and the increasing availability of sensor technologies to monitor and record behavioral activities provide a real opportunity to extend the database and to understand the grazing behavior of animals. The purpose of this study was therefore to investigate the seasonal variations in the grazing activities of dairy goats browsing in forest rangeland using accelerometers and GPS. Eight experimental goats were fitted with GPS collars and leg sensors to monitor their grazing activities. A trial was conducted in order to use the data from the GPS collars and leg sensors to estimate times spent grazing/eating, as well as other grazing activities. The calibration study involved the visual observation of eight goats equipped with GPS collars and sensors over a three-day period. Measurements were undertaken during the three main grazing seasons (spring, summer, and fall). Goats spent most of their daytime foraging budget grazing during spring and fall (p< 0,001). The goats prolonged their lying time in summer (p< 0,001) at the expense of standing duration. The number of steps was numerically greater in both seasons of summer and fall (>6500 steps). The horizontal and vertical distances traveled by goats were significantly higher in fall and summer. Goats spent 59% of their feeding duration on grazing (eating) during the spring in contrast to the summer (36%), and fall (45%) seasons. The combination of GPS collars and accelerometers contributed to a better understanding of the grazing activities of dairy goats in the studied forest rangeland.

Keywords: GPS collars; accelerometers; grazing behavior; dairy goat; lying; standing; traveled distance