There is an untapped potential to combine the measures from precision livestock farming to provide improved, biologically meaningful, phenotypes. At present, it is generally the case that precision livestock solutions are developed for the purposes of monitoring one particular condition, and very often using only one measure. It has been shown that combinations of precision livestock measures may provide a fuller, and more robust, description of the condition. These may be both combinations of full continuous signals (e.g., milk yield and electrical conductivity) or sequential combinations. Sequential combinations are those in which a cheap, easy-to-deploy but usually less precise signal is used to provide first-level monitoring but is set up to initiate a second-level, more precise, and usually more expensive, monitoring when the first indicator indicates change from the normal state. The usefulness of combined measures benefit from being developed with a systemic view of the underlying biology, leading to a subsequent improvement in the precision of the resulting phenotypes. The deployment of combined measures for phenotyping is becoming increasingly important, particularly in the context of addressing more complex traits such as robustness in genomic selection and when considering the animal’s role in herd level resilience.

NC Friggens, and VM Thorup

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 75, Dunedin, 145-148, 2015
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