Rangeland Ecology & Management

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Foundations of Virtual Fencing: Training and Animal Welfare
Mayer, Brandon
Dalke, Amber
Antaya, Andrew
Audoin, Flavie
Beard, Joslyn
Noelle, Sarah
Ruyle, George
Lien, Aaron
The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension
Publication Year

A VF system relies on livestock successfully recognizing an association between two cues – an auditory cue (beeping sound) and an electrical cue (electrical pulse) – originating from the GPS-enabled collars when the animal enters a boundary zone. Recognition of these cues is learned through training with classical conditioning and negative reinforcement. After training, livestock should respond to the auditory cue by changing direction away from the exclusion zone (Figure 1). If the association between cues is continuous, predictable, and controllable, a collar can influence livestock movement. Understanding how livestock recognize and interpret this association can limit potential risks for animal health and welfare. This factsheet provides an overview of the underlying learning methods (i.e., classical conditioning and negative reinforcement) used to train livestock.

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Journal Issue/Article
virtual fence
virtual fencing
precision agriculture
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