Development of a noninvasive system for monitoring dairy cattle sleep

J. M. Klefot, J. L. Murphy, K. D. Donohue, B. F. O'Hara, M. E. Lhamon, J. M. Bewley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Limited research has been conducted to assess sleep in production livestock primarily because of limitations with monitoring capabilities. Consequently, biological understanding of production circumstances and facility options that affect sleep is limited. The objective of this study was to assess if data collected from a proof-of-concept, noninvasive 3-axis accelerometer device are correlated with sleep and wake-like behaviors in dairy cattle. Four Holstein dairy cows housed at the University of Kentucky Coldstream Dairy in September 2013 were visually observed for 2 consecutive 24-h periods. The accelerometer device was attached to a harness positioned on the right side of each cow's neck. Times of classified behaviors of wake (standing, head up, alert, eyes open) or sleep-like behaviors (lying, still, head resting on ground, eyes closed) were recorded continuously by 2 observers who each watched 2 cows at a time. The radial signal was extracted from 3 different axes of the accelerometer to obtain a motion signal independent of direction of movement. Radial signal features were examined for maximizing the performance of detecting sleep-like behaviors using a Fisher's linear discriminant analysis classifier. The study included 652 min of high-activity wake behaviors and 107 min of sleep-like behavior among 4 cows. Results from a bootstrapping analysis showed an agreement between human observation and the linear discriminant analysis classifier, with an accuracy of 93.7 ± 0.7% for wake behavior and 92.2 ± 0.8% for sleep-like behavior (±95% confidence interval).This prototype shows promise in measuring sleep-like behaviors. Improvements to both hardware and software should allow more accurate determinations of subtle head movements and respiratory movements that will further improve the assessment of these sleep-like behaviors, including estimates of deep, light, and rapid eye movement sleep. These future studies will require simultaneous electroencephalography and electromyography measures and perhaps additional measures of arousal thresholds to validate this system for measuring true sleep.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8477-8485
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Dairy Science Association


  • accelerometer
  • behavior
  • sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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