Did you know that cow's nose print is completely unique? Researchers at an Egyptian university have developed a highly accurate new programme to monitor cattle.
Cows across the world are talking about the researchers at Beni Suef University who have created a computer programme that can identify cattle using nose prints.
Applying the same biometric principles that allow humans to be identified by their fingerprints or facial scans, researchers have designed a computer algorithm that detects distinct features in the nose prints of cattle. The new technique will allow for a more humane method of monitoring livestock production, which can aid in the management of vaccinations and follow up on disease outbreaks resulting in safer cattle products, according to a study published by the International Journal of Image Mining.
This new technique will come as a welcoming change for cattle, as traditional methods of identifying them include painful procedures including ear tagging, tattooing or hot iron branding. The initial discovery that muzzle prints are as unique as fingerprints dates back to 1921, however at the time, printing a muzzle image using ink and paper was time-consuming as computers didn’t exist to help sort out the muzzle prints.
Bring this technique to the new computer age, the Beni Suef researchers relied on taking digital photographs of each cattle’s nose. The resulting pictures are then processed using the computer algorithm they designed which extract features from the prints that is classified and then entered into a database. In order increase the accuracy of identifying the animals, researchers built a database of 20 pictures for each of the 52 animals that the method was applied to. The end result was that the programme was able to identify the animals 96 percent of the time improving on traditional methods which yield a 90 percent accuracy rate.
Although the new method is more humane and suggests that it increases accuracy the application is far from becoming applied both locally and globally. Even the author of the study, Hagar El Hadad, admits that the method still needs refining to reduce processing times and increase accuracy before being applied to large cattle farms. In order to reach that goal El Hadad tells SciDev.Net that "We need governmental cooperation, high resolution digital cameras, high technology computers and staff trained to use the system.”
Hopefully the government will heed his call for help and assist the researchers as it isn’t everyday that an Egyptian university creates a programme that can be globally applied ensuring safer products while providing a more humane treatment of cattle.