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Lame sheep adjust their behaviour to reduce discomfort, study finds
Best practice for lameness relies on fast treatment, but currently no validated commercial tools exist to help with diagnosis.

New sensing technology could improve sheep health

A study from the University of Nottingham’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Science has shown that lame sheep will adjust how they carry out certain activities, such as walking, standing or lying down, rather than reducing the amount of activity.

The study used a new prototype tagging and monitoring system, developed by Dr Jasmeet Kaler, associate professor in epidemiology and farm animal health, along with companies Intel and Farm Wizard. The technology is worn on a sheep’s ear tag and gathers accelerometer and gyroscope data to track the animal’s behaviour and movement.

Detecting lameness has previously been difficult as it relies on visual inspection. Researchers were not only able to detect the features of lameness using the new technology, they also identified behaviours which are far more difficult to spot with the human eye.

When walking, the main characteristics of lameness were frequency, linked to rhythm and pace, researchers say this could be the result of reduced mobility in lame sheep, leading to changes in acceleration and rotational movement.

There was also a change in the gait of lame sheep, with ‘peculiar head nodding’ in line with their stride, compared to smoother stride patterns in non-lame sheep.

According to the report, the results for classification of lameness had a higher accuracy within lying and standing activities.

The most notable features include a mixture of frequency and time-domain features, suggesting differences in the variability and smoothness of movements for both standing and lying down between lame and non-lame sheep that may be attempting to alleviate pain caused by the lameness.

Commenting on the results of the study, Dr Kaler said: “This has been the first report of its kind and given lameness classification is possible within all these activities this helps to improve the accuracy as well as flexibility in terms of energy requirements. This automated system for the lameness detection can help improve sheep health and welfare on farms.”

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New 'DoggyLottery' to raise funds for rescue centres

News Story 1
 A new 'DoggyLottery' to raise funds for dog rescue centres in the UK will launch on Saturday (4 July). Every four weeks, five different rescue centres will be connected to the lottery, providing much-needed funds - particularly during COVID-19 - and providing vital online exposure.

A weekly game costs £1.50 and entrants will have the chance of being one of 20 guaranteed winners. A massive 60 per cent of the raised funds will go towards the dog rescue centres, more than double that donated by leading lottery companies to charitable causes.

To find out more and play the lottery, visit www.doggylottery.co.uk  

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International Cat Care appoints new head of veterinary division

International Cat Care (ICC) has announced the appointment of Nathalie Dowgray as head of the charity's veterinary division.

Nathalie, who is an RCVS advanced practitioner in feline medicine, will lead the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) and a play key role in advancing knowledge and research in feline medicine.

Claire Bessant, iCatCare's chief executive said: "We're absolutely delighted to be welcoming Nathalie to the charity. She brings a depth and breadth of feline expertise and understanding which fits perfectly with the charity's work and development, and her enthusiasm for cats is infectious."