Determination of Appropriate Drone Flight Altitude for Horse Behavioural Observation
Research Aspects in Agriculture and Veterinary Science Vol. 4,
10 November 2021
Recently, drone technologies have advanced, and their safety and operability have markedly improved, leading to their increased application in animal research. Drones of various sizes and functionalities are readily available commercially and are relatively simple to obtain. This study demonstrated drone application in livestock management, using its technology to observe horse behavior and verify the appropriate horse–drone distance for aerial behavioral observations. Recordings were conducted from September to October 2017 on 11 horses using the Phantom 4 Pro drone. Four flight altitudes were tested (60, 50, 40, and 30 m) to investigate the reactions of the horses to the drones and observe their behavior; the recording time at each altitude was 5 min. None of the horses displayed avoidance behavior at any flight altitude, and the observer was able to distinguish between any two horses. Recorded behaviors were foraging, moving, standing, recumbency, avoidance, and others. Foraging was the most common behavior observed both directly and in the drone videos. The correlation coefficients of all behavioral data from direct and drone video observations at all altitudes were significant (p < 0.01). These results indicate that horse behavior can be discerned with equal accuracy by both direct and recorded drone video observations. In conclusion, drones can be useful for recording and analyzing horse behavior.
- behavioral observation
- flight altitude
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