KSEF RDE: Automation of Dairy Cattle Body Condition Scoring through Image Processing

Grants and Contracts Details


To maintain dairy cow well-being and productivity, it is imperative that managers provide the correct feed and environmental conditions to maintain optimum energy reserve levels in each animal. Unfortunately, the only practical way that managers can assess energy reserves is through a subjective evaluation, which is very difficult to consistently implement as a management tool. This multidisciplinary project, seeks to develop and implement a new technology for automatic and objective monitoring of dairy cattle body condition. Digital imaging has potential applications in precision dairy farming for monitoring cow health, cow well-being, and feed efficiency. The objectives of this proposed study are (1) to accurately estimate the correlation between subjective body condition score (BCS) and ultrasound fat levels with cow contours obtained from image analyses, (2) to compare the usefulness of alternative imaging technologies for assessing cow BCS, and (3) to demonstrate the utility of automatic BCS obtained from image analysis in various breeds and across full lactations. During the BCS validation phase, manual, subjective BCS will be collected and utilized to establish accurate and reliable reference values. The development of the image-based BCS sensor includes comparison of four potential advanced imaging techniques: (1) thermal imaging, (2) color in the visible light range, (3) near- IR, and (4) 3-D imaging sensors through time-of-flight or structured light. systems along with validation and implementation. The project is innovative in three areas: (1) imaging techniques, which have not been explored for monitoring BCS yet, will be compared simultaneously, (2) a larger number of animals, of varying breeds will be utilized in this project than in any previous automated BCS research, and (3) the project collaborators provide a novel cross-disciplinary approach toward simultaneous development of image processing and animal monitoring. The target system will be a low cost system affordable to dairy producers of varying sizes in commercial dairy farms around the world.
Effective start/end date7/1/126/30/14


  • KY Science and Technology Co Inc: $49,872.00


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