Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Daniel Lau


The inclusion of precision dairy farming technologies in dairy operations is an area of increasing research and industry direction. Machine vision based systems are suitable for the dairy environment as they do not inhibit workflow, are capable of continuous operation, and can be fully automated. The research of this dissertation developed and tested 3 machine vision based precision dairy farming technologies tailored to the latest generation of RGB+D cameras. The first system focused on testing various imaging approaches for the potential use of machine vision for automated dairy cow feed intake monitoring. The second system focused on monitoring the gradual change in body condition score (BCS) for 116 cows over a nearly 7 month period. Several proposed automated BCS systems have been previously developed by researchers, but none have monitored the gradual change in BCS for a duration of this magnitude. These gradual changes infer a great deal of beneficial and immediate information on the health condition of every individual cow being monitored. The third system focused on automated dairy cow feature detection using Haar cascade classifiers to detect anatomical features. These features included the tailhead, hips, and rear regions of the cow body. The features chosen were done so in order to aid machine vision applications in determining if and where a cow is present in an image or video frame. Once the cow has been detected, it must then be automatically identified in order to keep the system fully automated, which was also studied in a machine vision based approach in this research as a complimentary aspect to incorporate along with cow detection. Such systems have the potential to catch poor health conditions developing early on, aid in balancing the diet of the individual cow, and help farm management to better facilitate resources, monetary and otherwise, in an appropriate and efficient manner. Several different applications of this research are also discussed along with future directions for research, including the potential for additional automated precision dairy farming technologies, integrating many of these technologies into a unified system, and the use of alternative, potentially more robust machine vision cameras.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)