In 2012 and 2013, the Centre for Proper Housing of Ruminants and Pigs, Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office FSVO and Agroscope, Institute for Livestock Science in Tänikon, Switzerland*, conducted their studies in observing and measuring ear positions of sheep while stimulating them in three different levels: with the help of an automated mechanical device fixed at the upper breast of the sheep by a belt system.
The stimuli ranged from pricking (without injury) with metal pins against the sheep’s body, over just pressing against the body with a metal plate to (as the presumed positive stimulation) “massaging” the sheep with the plate.
The automated measurements supported by the infrared tracking system can be a very useful instrument for studies relying on the evaluation of ear postures and movements for the understanding of emotional reactions in sheep and other similarly sized animals.
* Academic responsibles and authors of the scientific thesis: S. Vögeli, B. Wechsler and L. Gygax
Ear postures and movements were recorded by ART’s TRACKPACK4 system using reflective marker balls tracked by four infra-red cameras in 3D. The cameras were placed in the four top corners of the test pen and connected with a TRACKPACK controller calculating the positions of the marker balls. These positions were then transmitted to a remote PC. A single marker was placed on the back side of each ear (‘ear target’). In addition, a 6D head target with four markers was used.
- TRACKPACK4 system
- TRACKPACK controller
- 2 “ear targets” (single markers)
- 1 6D head target
- 1 sheep pen representing the tracking cave