A preliminary study of the physiological and behavioral response of beef cattle to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)

Gabriel Abdulai, Michael Sama, Joshua Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Annually, over 2.5 million US cattle valued at $1.5 billion die from diseases. The current methods of monitoring cattle health and behavior are insufficient to mitigate the toll of cattle deaths from diseases, but a combination of existing and innovative modern methods have the potential to further reduce cattle deaths caused by diseases. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) equipped with sensors capable of capturing cattle physiology and behavior in pasture have potential to transform cattle health monitoring in pasture. However, due to concerns related to the impact UAVs have on the physical and physiological wellbeing of cattle, it is important to understand the nuances associated with UAV use. In this study, we investigated the physiological and behavioral response of 18 two-year-old black Angus heifers to UAV flights conducted 9 m above ground level. Heifer heart rate was measured noninvasively in beats per minute (bpm) and movement rate with a low-cost Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver in meters per second (m/s) at one second interval for five (5) minutes before flight and five (5) minutes during UAV flights. UAV flights were repeated three (3) days each week for four (4) weeks using a total of 120 flights with (i) circular and (ii) grid pattern UAV flight. The results from our study demonstrated that repeated circular and grid pattern UAV flights were unlikely to elicit significant change in heifer heart rate and movement rate. Our findings represent the preliminary step towards understanding the response of beef cattle to external stimuli from different UAV flight patterns.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105355
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
StatePublished - Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.


  • Beef cattle
  • Behavior
  • Heart rate
  • Movement rate
  • Physiology
  • Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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