Development of automatic body condition scoring using a low-cost 3-dimensional Kinect camera

Roii Spoliansky, Yael Edan, Yisrael Parmet, Ilan Halachmi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Body condition scoring (BCS) is a farm-management tool for estimating dairy cows’ energy reserves. Today, BCS is performed manually by experts. This paper presents a 3-dimensional algorithm that provides a topographical understanding of the cow's body to estimate BCS. An automatic BCS system consisting of a Kinect camera (Microsoft Corp., Redmond, WA) triggered by a passive infrared motion detector was designed and implemented. Image processing and regression algorithms were developed and included the following steps: (1) image restoration, the removal of noise; (2) object recognition and separation, identification and separation of the cows; (3) movie and image selection, selection of movies and frames that include the relevant data; (4) image rotation, alignment of the cow parallel to the x-axis; and (5) image cropping and normalization, removal of irrelevant data, setting the image size to 150 × 200 pixels, and normalizing image values. All steps were performed automatically, including image selection and classification. Fourteen individual features per cow, derived from the cows’ topography, were automatically extracted from the movies and from the farm's herd-management records. These features appear to be measurable in a commercial farm. Manual BCS was performed by a trained expert and compared with the output of the training set. A regression model was developed, correlating the features with the manual BCS references. Data were acquired for 4 d, resulting in a database of 422 movies of 101 cows. Movies containing cows’ back ends were automatically selected (389 movies). The data were divided into a training set of 81 cows and a test set of 20 cows; both sets included the identical full range of BCS classes. Accuracy tests gave a mean absolute error of 0.26, median absolute error of 0.19, and coefficient of determination of 0.75, with 100% correct classification within 1 step and 91% correct classification within a half step for BCS classes. Results indicated good repeatability, with all standard deviations under 0.33. The algorithm is independent of the background and requires 10 cows for training with approximately 30 movies of 4 s each.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)7714-7725
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2016


  • body condition scoring
  • cattle
  • computer vision
  • precision livestock farming
  • sensor

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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