facial recognition for cows
Photo courtesy of Cargill and Cainthus via Gizmodo.

Just When You Thought You'd Heard It All, Facial Recognition for Cows


Facial recognition technology is a reality of the era we live in.

It's in use at airports, sporting events, schools, and now, it's being introduced into a completely different kind of environment: farms and stables.

Cargill, a global food corporation, is joining forces with Cainthus, an Irish agtech machine vision company based in Dublin to bring facial recognition technology to the barnyard. The collaboration aims to develop technology in order to monitor cows.

David Hunt, president and co-founder of Cainthus told the Irish Times:

"We are enthused about what this partnership will mean for farmers across the world. Cargill is a natural partner for us, given their focus on bringing a world-class digital capability to the market and their understanding of how technology will truly help farmers succeed. We think this partnership will be a game changer for farmers because it will allow them to efficiently scale their business."

In a press release, the Irish startup announced that the intention is to use facial recognition software to monitor the behavior, feeding patterns, and overall wellbeing of livestock on dairy farms, and send that information to farmers via instant notifications.


cows at feed lot

The plan is to install cameras where the animal feed. Artificial intelligence (AI) will scan the individual cows' faces, determine a baseline for each individual's typical behavior, and then, once that's been established, any changes (such as increases or decreases in weight, loss of appetite, changes in water intake, slower movements, etc.) will be flagged by an algorithm and the information sent to farmers.

Managing director for Cargill's digital insights business, Sri Raj Kantamneni explained:

"Our shared vision is to disrupt and transform how we bring insights and analytics to dairy producers worldwide. Our customers' ability to make proactive and predictive decisions to improve their farm's efficiency, enhance animal health and wellbeing, reduce animal loss, and ultimately increase farm profitability are significantly enhanced with this technology." 

Cainthus believes using AI in this manner will serve to detect, and hopefully, prevent health problems from developing and allow farmers to make adjustments appropriate to the health of their animals according to individual patterns. The animals will benefit, while having higher milk production, and the dairy farmers will save money.


Believe it or not, this isn't the first time AI has made an appearance in the barnyard. Last year, scientists used it to "decode" chicken communication in order to monitor the health of chickens in a way similar to how it will be used on dairy cows.

From law enforcement, to schools, to the food on our tables, AI is making its way into every corner of modern life.

What do you think of AI in the barnyard? Tell us in the comments section!


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