Feed intake in housed dairy cows: validation of a three-dimensional camera−based feed intake measurement system

G. Giagnoni*, J. Lassen, P. Lund, L. Foldager, M. Johansen, M. R. Weisbjerg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Measuring feed intake accurately is crucial to determine feed efficiency and for genetic selection. A system using three-dimensional (3D) cameras and deep learning algorithms can measure the volume of feed intake in dairy cows, but for now, the system has not been validated for feed intake expressed as weight of feed. The aim of this study was to validate the weight of feed intake predicted from the 3D cameras with the actual measured weight. It was hypothesised that diet−specific coefficients are necessary for predicting changes in weight, that the relationship between weight and volume is curvilinear throughout the day, and that manually pushing the feed affects this relationship. Twenty-four lactating Danish Holstein cows were used in a cross-over design with four dietary treatments, 2 × 2 factorial arranged with either grass-clover silage or maize silage as silage factor, and barley or dried beet pulp as concentrate factor. Cows were adapted to the diets for 11 d, and for 3 d to tie-stall housing before camera measurements. Six cameras were used for recording, each mounted over an individual feeding platform equipped with a weight scale. When building the predictive models, four cameras were used for training, and the remaining two for testing the prediction of the models. The most accurate predictions were found for the average feed intake over a period when using the starting density of the feed pile, which resulted in the lowest errors, 6% when expressed as RMSE and 5% expressed as mean absolute error. A model including curvilinear effects of feed volume and the impact of manual feed pushing was used on a dataset including daily time points. When cross-validating, the inclusion of a curvilinear effect and a feed push effect did not improve the accuracy of the model for neither the feed pile nor the feed removed by the cow between consecutive time points. In conclusion, measuring daily feed intake from this 3D camera system in the present experimental setup could be accomplished with an acceptable error (below 8%), but the system should be improved for individual meal intake measurements if these measures were to be implemented.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101178
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024


  • Dry matter intake
  • Feed efficiency
  • Feeding behaviour
  • Precision livestock farming
  • Total mixed ration density


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