LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico State University researcher is tracking cattle behavior with GPS technology. Derek Bailey, a professor of range science at NMSU’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, is investigating the behavior of cows and how to keep them sustainably grazing.

A news release from NMSU reports that since 2017, Bailey and his research team have used technologies to monitor animal welfare at the Deep Well Ranch located in Yavapai County in Arizona. The college reports that GPS tracking and accelerometers are utilized to monitor cattle activity as well as changes in normal behavior.

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Stating it’s like “a Fitbit for cows,” Bailey explains that the research at the ranch has demonstrated that tracking cattle this way could help identify water system failures. The data is analyzed by the researchers who develop algorithms and techniques to move cattle to areas that are under grazed and detect animal diseases and more.

In the news release, Bailey explains that cows typically have a pattern as they get a drink and they walk away before laying down. However, if the cows remain in an area, they’re waiting for water and become frustrated.

Using this method of monitoring livestock is less labor-intensive than doing so on horseback explains Baley who has also done collaborative research in Australia and found that monitoring behavior with accelerometers could detect diseases such as bovine ephemeral fever.