How do researchers measure animal behavior?

The gold standard for recording behavior is to track an animal and note the precise start and end time for each behavior, known as continuous observation.

A labor-saving alternative is observe animals at set time intervals to record a snapshot of what they are doing at that moment, known as instantaneous sampling.

We validated the use of instantaneous sampling for capturing various dairy cow behaviors such as lying down or visiting the feed bunk and water trough. We did this in freestall housing, which is used for over 60% of lactating cows in the US.

How did instantaneous sampling compare to continuous observation?

Check out our paper in Journal of Dairy Science or listen to my 5-minute narrated slideshow explaining our study:

Jennifer M. Chen, Karin E. Schütz, and Cassandra B. Tucker. 2016. Technical note: Comparison of instantaneous scan sampling and continuous observation of dairy cattle behavior in freestall housing. Journal of Dairy Science 99:8341-8346doi:10.3168/jds.2016-11351.

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