New system could save farms money and improve bovine welfare

A system to identify lameness in cows, that could save the farming industry millions, has been developed with funding from the University to advance the commercialisation of existing or new intellectual property.

The prompt detection of lameness in cows is important for their well-being, and for the labour, production costs, and self-esteem of the farmer. The monetary loss for every lame cow is estimated at £170.

To combat this issue Richard Everson, Professor of Machine Learning in the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, teamed up with eCow, a fast-growing South West SME. eCow were occupants of the University's Innovation Centre at the time, and have expressed an interest in moving to the Science Park.

The project developed a system to ensure cows showing signs of lameness can be quickly identified by monitoring their gait.

Once the reliability of detection is confirmed and reproduced on a national scale automatic detection could become a necessity for the dairy farming industry.

The advanced technology will allow farmers to efficiently address problems through utilising signal and image processing in the form of instrumented collars and video sequences.

Professor Everson used funding from the Open Innovation Platform, funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) to begin his work with eCow.