Behavioural classification of cattle using neck-mounted accelerometer-equipped collars

Dejan Pavlovic, Mikolaj Czerkawski, Christopher Davison, Oskar Marko, Craig Michie, Robert Atkinson, Vladimir Crnojevic, Ivan Andonovic, Vladimir Rajovic, Goran Kvascev, Christos Tachtatzis

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Monitoring and classification of dairy cattle behaviours is essential for optimising milk yields. Early detection of illness, days before the critical conditions occur, together with automatic detection of the onset of oestrus cycles is crucial for obviating prolonged cattle treatments and improving the pregnancy rates. Accelerometer-based sensor systems are becoming increasingly popular, as they are automatically providing information about key cattle behaviours such as the level of restlessness and the time spent ruminating and eating, proxy measurements that indicate the onset of heat events and overall welfare, at an individual animal level. This paper reports on an approach to the development of algorithms that classify key cattle states based on a systematic dimensionality reduction process through two feature selection techniques. These are based on Mutual Information and Backward Feature Elimination and applied on knowledge-specific and generic time-series extracted from raw accelerometer data. The extracted features are then used to train classification models based on a Hidden Markov Model, Linear Discriminant Analysis and Partial Least Squares Discriminant Analysis. The proposed feature engineering methodology permits model deployment within the computing and memory restrictions imposed by operational settings. The models were based on measurement data from 18 steers, each animal equipped with an accelerometer-based neck-mounted collar and muzzle-mounted halter, the latter providing the truthing data. A total of 42 time-series features were initially extracted and the trade-off between model performance, computational complexity and memory footprint was explored. Results show that the classification model that best balances performance and computation complexity is based on Linear Discriminant Analysis using features selected through Backward Feature Elimination. The final model requires 1.83 ± 1.00 ms to perform feature extraction with 0.05 ± 0.01 ms for inference with an overall balanced accuracy of 0.83.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2323
Number of pages18
Issue number6
Early online date17 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2022


  • precision agriculture
  • cattle behaviour monitoring
  • feature selection

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