Sensing solutions for improving the performance, health and wellbeing of small ruminants

Gerardo Caja*, Andreia Castro-Costa, Ahmed A.K. Salama, Joan Oliver, Mario Baratta, Christopher H. Knight, Carles Ferrer Ramis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Diversity of production systems and specific socio-economic barriers are key reasons explaining why the implementation of new technologies in small ruminants, despite being needed and beneficial for farmers, is harder than in other livestock species. There are, however, helpful peculiarities where small ruminants are concerned: the compulsory use of electronic identification created a unique scenario in Europe in which all small ruminant breeding stock became searchable by appropriate sensing solutions, and the largest small ruminant population in the world is located in Asia, close to the areas producing new technologies. Notwithstanding, only a few research initiatives and literature reviews have addressed the development of new technologies in small ruminants. This Research Reflection focuses on small ruminants (with emphasis on dairy goats and sheep) and reviews in a non-exhaustive way the basic concepts, the currently available sensor solutions and the structure and elements needed for the implementation of sensor-based husbandry decision support. Finally, some examples of results obtained using several sensor solutions adapted from large animals or newly developed for small ruminants are discussed. Significant room for improvement is recognized and a large number of multiple-sensor solutions are expected to be developed in the relatively near future.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)34-46
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Dairy Research
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2020


  • Performance recording
  • precision livestock farming
  • sensor
  • wearable device
  • welfare


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