Skip to main content
[Translate to English:]
[Translate to English:]
Institute of

OF Organic Farming


Sensors show how dairy cows graze

OptiScore - Applying new electronic sensors to create animal condition scoring protocols for the automated measurement of health and welfare traits for use in sustainable organic dairy cow breeding programs

Accelerometers can be used to identifiy activity. Depending on the part of the body where the sensors are attached, walking or lying as well as head movements can be recorded.

Background and Objective

Functional traits are an important part of the breeding goal to increase the lifetime of dairy cows. The monthly animal recording provides data concerning milk yield, milk composition and - indirectly - udder health and metabolic status of a cow. These data are used in the estimation of breeding values. However, other information, e. g. lameness scores, are not available on such a regular base. The project focused on these readings. Accelerometers, which offer the opportunity to record the activity and resting behaviour directly on the animal, were evaluated with regard to other applications. We tried to monitor the grazing behaviour of cows.


In repeated studies, direct observations on pasture were compared with the signals recorded by the sensors. Accelerometers were attached either with a halter around the neck or hanging on a neckband. Algorithms were developed to differentiate between grazing and other head-neck-movements. In another experiment, the sensitivity and specificity of algorithms and sensors were evaluated.



The tested accelerometers (IceTag3D, IceRobotics Ltd., UK) can - on principle – be used to record grazing behaviour of dairy cows and distinguish grazing from other head-neck-movements. However, sensitivity and specificity of sensors and algorithms have to be improved before the system might be used to automatically monitor grazing behaviour in dairy cows.

Links and Downloads


1.2007 - 12.2010

Involved external Thünen-Partners

Funding Body

  • European Union (EU)
    (international, öffentlich)


1.2007 - 12.2010

More Information

Funding program: EU - Marie Curie Action
Project status: finished


  1. 0

    Barth K, Gyöngy I (2011) Eignung von Beschleunigungssensoren zur Erkennung des Grasens bei Milchkühen. In: 10. Tagung: Bau, Technik und Umwelt 2011 in der landwirtschaftlichen Nutztierhaltung. Darmstadt: KTBL, pp 395-399

    Scroll to top