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First Evaluation of Infrared Thermography as a Tool for the Monitoring of Udder Health Status in Farms of Dairy Cows

1
Department of Human Sciences and Quality of Life Promotion, Università Telematica San Raffaele Roma, Via di Val Cannuta 247, Rome 00166, Italy
2
Department of Veterinary Medicine, Università degli Studi di Milano, Via Celoria 10, Milan 20133, Italy
3
Animal & Veterinary Sciences, Scotland’s Rural College, Roslin Institute Building, Easter Bush, Midlothian EH25 9RG, UK
4
Department of Health, Animal Science and Food Safety (VESPA), Università degli Studi di Milano, Via Celoria 10, Milan 20133, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sensors 2018, 18(3), 862; https://doi.org/10.3390/s18030862
Received: 29 January 2018 / Revised: 12 March 2018 / Accepted: 13 March 2018 / Published: 14 March 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Infrared Imaging: Sensing, Exploitation and Applications)
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Abstract

The aim of the present study was to test infrared thermography (IRT), under field conditions, as a possible tool for the evaluation of cow udder health status. Thermographic images (n. 310) from different farms (n. 3) were collected and evaluated using a dedicated software application to calculate automatically and in a standardized way, thermographic indices of each udder. Results obtained have confirmed a significant relationship between udder surface skin temperature (USST) and classes of somatic cell count in collected milk samples. Sensitivity and specificity in the classification of udder health were: 78.6% and 77.9%, respectively, considering a level of somatic cell count (SCC) of 200,000 cells/mL as a threshold to classify a subclinical mastitis or 71.4% and 71.6%, respectively when a threshold of 400,000 cells/mL was adopted. Even though the sensitivity and specificity were lower than in other published papers dealing with non-automated analysis of IRT images, they were considered acceptable as a first field application of this new and developing technology. Future research will permit further improvements in the use of IRT, at farm level. Such improvements could be attained through further image processing and enhancement, and the application of indicators developed and tested in the present study with the purpose of developing a monitoring system for the automatic and early detection of mastitis in individual animals on commercial farms. View Full-Text
Keywords: dairy cow; udder health status; mastitis detection; infrared thermography; imaging analysis dairy cow; udder health status; mastitis detection; infrared thermography; imaging analysis
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Zaninelli, M.; Redaelli, V.; Luzi, F.; Bronzo, V.; Mitchell, M.; Dell’Orto, V.; Bontempo, V.; Cattaneo, D.; Savoini, G. First Evaluation of Infrared Thermography as a Tool for the Monitoring of Udder Health Status in Farms of Dairy Cows. Sensors 2018, 18, 862.

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