The ability of farmers to estimate the live bodyweight of cattle enables them to evaluate the yield of beef that can be obtained from them.
However, while cattle scales are available, they can be expensive and frightening for the animals. For that reason, many farmers estimate the weight of cattle by taking manual measurements of their girth using a tape measure and a conversion chart.
Now, researchers at the AIA (Associazione Italiana Allevatori; Rome, Italy) have developed an alternative vision-based system that can calculate the circumference of the chest of cattle from which it can then estimate their body weight.
The system itself integrates a GPS system to record the location at which the measurement takes place with a digital camera, a laser projector and a notebook computer.
In use, an operator highlights the side of the animal with two laser markers, after which an image is taken with the camera. The same procedure is then repeated to capture an image from the front of the animal. From the two measurements, the software creates an ellipse whose circumference is representative of the animal's girth.
The estimated girth is then transformed into a measure of the live weight by an algorithm running on the notebook that correlates the girth of the animal with its breed, sex and its age at the time the measurement was taken.
Researcher Mauro Fioretti from the AIA presented the system at the International Committee for Animal Recording (ICAR) 2012 meeting on May 30 in Cork, Ireland. A copy of his presentation can be found here.
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-- Dave Wilson, Senior Editor, Vision Systems Design