Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Dr Fritha Langford - part of the Ig Nobel Prize Winning team

Congratulations go to JMICAWE’s Dr Fritha Langford, for being a member of the winning SRUC team that won the 2013 Ig Nobel prize for Probability.

The Ig Nobel awards are for ‘Science that makes you laugh, then makes you think’. The study in question carried out at Scotland's Rural College (SRUC) farms analysed whether the length of time a cow stands up affects the likelihood of it lying down.

Fritha said: “We used pedometer-like sensors attached to the legs of dairy and beef cattle and used the recordings from these to analyse the patterns of cow behaviour. As we shed light on cow behaviour patterns we can then apply this to help pick up potential problems and improve cattle health and welfare”

The team expected to find that, as the cows became increasingly tired due to standing, they would become more likely to lie down. In fact, they found cows that had been standing for six hours were as likely to lie down within the following 15 minutes as cows that had been standing for one hour. In addition, some cows spent much more time standing than others. While the reasons for these variations were not clear, the project identified a scientific methodology for understanding patterns of activity and validated the use of the sensors as a good way to remotely collect behaviour patterns in large numbers of cattle at the same time.

Dr Tolkamp travelled to America to receive the award on Thursday while Dr Roberts will attend the European Ig Nobel Night on Saturday in the Netherlands.

The team celebrated their win when everyone was back together this week.  

 The winning paper can be seen here: Tolkamp, B. J.; Haskell, M. J.; Langford, F. M.; Roberts, D. J.; Morgan, C. A. (2010). "Are cows more likely to lie down the longer they stand?".

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