Non-Invasive Sensor Technology for the Development of a Dairy Cattle Health Monitoring System
2. Background Study
Ontological Relation Study of Diseases and Sensors
- Heartbeat sensor—It also occurs only once in the table. It is not feasible as it can be invasive. The pulse can be felt through an artery in the cow’s neck, near her jaw  and also through the facial artery which passes over the mandible near the angle of the jaw. However, this can be difficult to find and requires the animal to keep still . The device will be moving around the neck and hence is not useful if the device has to be non-invasive.
- ECG—It also occurs only once in the table. ECG records the electrical activity of the heart including the timing and duration of each electrical phase in your heartbeat. ECG electrodes have to be placed near to the heart of the cow, immediately behind the withers (third to fourth inter-rib space) and the second electrode in the pericardium area .ECG sensor is not included in the box because:
- If we place the accelerometer and microphone near to cow’s heart so that we can also include them with ECG sensor in one sensor box, we will not receive good quality activity signal from accelerometer as compared to cow neck as the cow moves her neck more for nearly all activities (e.g., running, grazing etc.) compared to area near cows’ heart (its more static), similarly microphone will also receive less signal (mooing, grazing, rumination etc.) as now it has been placed far away as compared to neck, moreover, as in Table 4, ECG signals appears only once hence it is chosen to keep the sensor box location at neck to receive maximum activity signals.
- Smartex, Italy has developed a wearable wellness system for humans , which was also tested on horses. This unit has two textile ECG sensor and was able to remove 40% of movement artifacts from 7 h of data . Although this data looks very promising but 7 h is very less testing duration for any conclusion, for our application, at least 720 h of testing is required. Additionally, there is still a huge possibility for the sensors to easily get damaged in mud or cow dung as an adult cow tend to sit more than a horse due to the fact that horses “only have to lie down for an hour or two every few days to meet their minimum REM sleep requirements” [33,36].
- Even if one could get a continuously accurate signal from ECG electrodes, it would almost certainly be on a customizable basis only, and the wearability would be characterised as “extremely uncomfortable” for continuous donning.
- ECG is only used to detect two diseases in Table 4, which can also be detected by Accelerometer, microphone and temperature sensor. Hence, to conclude we can say that it is possible to have an ECG but it can only be added as an add-on sensor for extra measurements. Though its addition will cause an increased cost [37,38,39].
- Gas sensor—In order to detect any gas, it will have to be placed near to the cows’ mouth, or if placed in the sensor box, it will need an opening, which is not a feasible option as the sensor box should be weather proof to avoid any damages to all other electronic components. Moreover, ketosis can also be monitored be feed intake (grazing and rumination) that an accelerometer and microphone can detect .
4. Results, Discussion and Conclusions
- Sensor technique: Measurement of raw data for a cow (e.g., activity, temperature);
- Data Interpretation: Interpretation that condenses change in the sensor data (e.g., increased activity) to fabricate information about the status of the cow (e.g., Oestrus);
- Information Integration: Information can be integrated from other sensors (e.g., data from milking parlour or load cells) as an add-on for decision making; and
Conflicts of Interest
|BRD||Bovine Respiratory Disease or Pneumonia|
|BVD||Bovine Viral Diarrhea|
|COD||Cystic Ovarian Disease|
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|3.||Cystic Ovarian Disease (COD)|
|8.||Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD)|
|9.||Heifer Pneumonia or Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD)|
|Percentage of Cows by Health Problems|
|Problem||NHAMS Dairy 1996||NHAMS Dairy||Trend|
|Impact to Farmer||Measurable Indicators|
|Mastitis||€37.6 million (Nationally 2013)|
Total farm costs (€): 61,085–177,343 
Swelling, reddening and hardness of udder
Irregularities in milk
Diarrhoea, dehydration 
|Lameness||The cost to a typical 100-cow herd are:|
No. Cows affected: 20
1.4 episodes of lameness @ €296.61 per cow 
€200/lameness case 
|Digital or hoof lameness (white line disease, solar haemorrhage, laminitis, slurry heel)|
Inter-digital infections (digital dermatitis, foul-in-the-foot, inter-digital dermatitis); and
Solar ulcers 
|Cystic Ovarian Disease (COD)||Each episode of COD costs the producer $137 per lactation ||Appearance of raised tailhead|
Formation of cyst(s) in the ovary/ovaries
Excessive mounting, standing and bawling with the noticeably deeper tone
Inconsistent milk yielding
General metabolic changes
Rough, dry hair coat
Disturbed feeding and rumination 
|Displaced Abomasum||Daily losses of R$17.21 (US$10.12) per sick cow|
Each animal cost R$417.00 (US$248.00) 
|Lack of appetite|
Milk production and rumination reduction are the primarily frequent symptoms
Diarrhoea, a distended abdomen and mild colic
Twisting (torsion) occurs—a difficulty common in Right Displaced Abomasum
Elevated heart rate
Ketones will be present 
|Ketosis (Acetonaemia)||£23,000 per year for every 100 cows ||Reduced milk yield|
Acetone (pear drop) smell of breath/or milk Fever
Some develop nervous signs including excess salivation, licking, aggression 
|Milk Fever||Exceeds $400 (~280 Euros) per cow ||Exhilaration or anxiety|
Muscle trembles in the head and limbs
Lying Down and can’t stand
Low body temperature [18,19]
|Retained Placenta||Total £s per affected cow: 274.00 |
Loss was 2,139 pounds per year 
Total average financial loss per case is $206, typical loss of $3,090 per 100 calvings per year 
|Calf’s membranes fail to separate from the mother cow |
|Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD)||Cost per cow per year €63|
Total costs €71.7 million
Average of naïve herd costs at €57/cow/year and PI herd costs at €69/cow/year 
|Weakness and thinning|
Lose watery stool with mucus and sometimes blood
Loss of milk production
Death if not treated at the right time 
|Heifer Pneumonia or Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD)||£80 million annually |
£82 per suckler calf, £43 per dairy bred calf [27,28]
Long term cost of disease £243 per animal, £1,008 per annum 
Serious nasal and eye discharge
Purulent nasal discharge
Bloody nasal discharge
Rapid, shallow breathing
Soft coughing 
|Disease||Aspect of Animal Health||Behavioural Changes||Sensor|
|Fever||High temperature||-||Temperature (Neck)|
|Discomfort||Less activity||Accelerometer (Neck)|
|Bellowing (Distress)||Mooing||Microphone (Neck)|
|Lameness||Motion changes||Standing or sitting||Accelerometer (Neck, feet, udder)|
|Reduced feed intake||Less grazing||Accelerometer (Neck)|
|-||Abnormal back arch||Camera (External location)|
|-||Non-uniform weight division||Load sensor (Under Feet)|
|Oestrus||Hormone level (e.g., Estrogen, Progesterone)||Restlessness||Accelerometer (around the neck, feet)|
|Yield (Decreased)||Less grazing||Accelerometer (neck, near tail or sacrum)|
|Standing to be mounted||Increased activity||Accelerometer (around the neck, feet)|
|Mastitis||Lying behaviour||Less time lying down||Accelerometer (Neck)|
|Reactivity during milking||Stepping, lifting and kicking||Accelerometer (around the neck, feet)|
|Weight distribution||Weakness/weight shifting||Load sensors (Under Feet)|
|Pain, Discomfort, Bellowing||Restlessness||Accelerometer (around the neck, feet), Microphone|
|Reduced feed intake||Less grazing||Accelerometer (Neck)|
|Ovarian cysts||Hormone level (e.g., Progesterone)||Restlessness and increased activity||Accelerometer (around the neck, feet)|
|Yield||Less/more grazing||Accelerometer (neck, near tail or sacrum)|
|Temperature||High/low temp||Temperature (Neck)|
|Milk quality||Electrical conductivity||Electrical conductivity sensor (Udder)|
|Displaced Abomasum, Ketosis||Feeding||Grazing||Accelerometer (Neck, feet)|
|-||Rumination||Microphone + Accelerometer (Neck)|
|Breathe ketones||-||Gas sensor (Nose)|
|Milk Fever, Retained Placenta||Movement/motion||Excitement/stiffness||Accelerometer (Neck)|
|Weight distribution||Weakness/weight shifting||Load sensors (Under Feet)|
|-||Temperature||Temperature sensor (Neck)|
|-||Pulse||Heartbeat sensor (Vein on neck), ECG (Near to the heart)|
|Diarrhoea, Pneumonia||Fever||High temperature||Temperature sensor (Neck)|
|Nasal discharge||Running nose||-|
|Cough||Coughing sound||Microphone (Neck)|
|Increased respiratory rate||Sound of breathing||Microphone (Neck)|
|Decreased appetite||Less grazing/feeding||Accelerometer (Neck)|
|Temperature||Hypothermy||36.5–38.5 °C (Cold)|
|Normothermia||38.5–39.5 °C (Normal)|
|Febricula||39–40 °C (High)|
|Middle fever||40–41 °C (High)|
|Hyperthermy||Over 41 °C (High)|
|Posture||Posture Category||Three-Axis Accelerometer|
|Do not want to move||Constant||Constant||Constant|
|Laid down and cannot move||Constant||Constant||Constant|
|Lift leg up with neck movement||-||-||Variable|
|S line posture||-||Variable||-|
|Turn in one direction||Variable||-||-|
|Cross legs, do not move||Constant||Constant||Constant|
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Awasthi, A.; Awasthi, A.; Riordan, D.; Walsh, J. Non-Invasive Sensor Technology for the Development of a Dairy Cattle Health Monitoring System. Computers 2016, 5, 23. https://doi.org/10.3390/computers5040023
Awasthi A, Awasthi A, Riordan D, Walsh J. Non-Invasive Sensor Technology for the Development of a Dairy Cattle Health Monitoring System. Computers. 2016; 5(4):23. https://doi.org/10.3390/computers5040023Chicago/Turabian Style
Awasthi, Amruta, Anshul Awasthi, Daniel Riordan, and Joseph Walsh. 2016. "Non-Invasive Sensor Technology for the Development of a Dairy Cattle Health Monitoring System" Computers 5, no. 4: 23. https://doi.org/10.3390/computers5040023