Implementation of an automatic 3D vision monitor for dairy cow locomotion in a commercial farm

Tom Van Hertem, Andrés Schlageter Tello, Stefano Viazzi, Machteld Steensels, Claudia Bahr, Carlos Eduardo Bites Romanini, Kees Lokhorst, Ephraim Maltz, Ilan Halachmi, Daniel Berckmans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to evaluate the system performance of a 3D vision system for automatic locomotion monitoring implemented in a commercial dairy farm. Data were gathered during 633 milking sessions on a Belgian commercial dairy farm. After milking, the cows walked in a single-lane alley where the video recording system with a 3D depth camera was installed. The entire monitoring process including video recording, video pre-processing by filtering, cow identification and video analysis was automated. Image processing extracted six feature variables from the recorded videos. Per milking session, 224 ± 10 cows (100%) were identified on average by a radio-frequency identification (RFID) antenna, and 197 ± 16 videos were recorded (88.1 ± 6.6%) by the camera. The cow identification number was merged automatically to a recorded video in 178 ± 14 videos (79.4 ± 5.5%). After video pre-processing and analysis, 110 ± 24 recorded cow-videos (49.3 ± 10.8%) per session resulted in an automatic locomotion score. Daily and cow-individual variations on the merging and analysis rate were due to cow traffic. The minimal cow traffic interval required between consecutive cows was 15 s for optimal merging. System performance was affected by lactation stage, parity of the cows and recording duration. The feature variables curvature angle of back around hip joints (Area Under the Receiver Operating Characteristics Curve (AUC) = 0.719) and back posture measurement (AUC = 0.702) could be considered as fair lameness classifiers. Cow traffic affected the success rate of the video processing. Therefore, automatic monitoring systems need to be adapted to the farm layout.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-175
Number of pages10
JournalBiosystems Engineering
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Automated monitoring
  • Back curvature
  • Computer vision
  • Cow traffic
  • Implementation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


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