Evaluation of deep learning for automatic multi‐view face detection in cattle

Beibei Xu, Wensheng Wang*, Leifeng Guo, Guipeng Chen, Yaowu Wang, Wenju Zhang, Yongfeng Li

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Individual identification plays an important part in disease prevention and control, traceability of meat products, and improvement of agricultural false insurance claims. Automatic and accurate detection of cattle face is prior to individual identification and facial expression recognition based on image analysis technology. This paper evaluated the possibility of the cutting-edge object detection algorithm, RetinaNet, performing multi‐view cattle face detection in housing farms with fluctuating illumination, overlapping, and occlusion. Seven different pretrained CNN models (ResNet 50, ResNet 101, ResNet 152, VGG 16, VGG 19, Densenet 121 and Densenet 169) were fine‐tuned by transfer learning and re‐trained on the dataset in the paper. Experimental results showed that RetinaNet incorporating the ResNet 50 was superior in accuracy and speed through performance evaluation, which yielded an average precision score of 99.8% and an average processing time of 0.0438 s per image. Compared with the typical competing algorithms, the proposed method was preferable for cattle face detection, especially in particularly challenging scenarios. This research work demonstrated the potential of artificial intelligence towards the incorporation of computer vision systems for individual identification and other animal welfare improvements.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1062
JournalAgriculture (Switzerland)
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2021


  • Cattle face detection
  • Deep learning
  • Precision livestock
  • RetinaNet


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