Sensor measurements revealed: Predicting the Gram-status of clinical mastitis causal pathogens

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Automatic milking systems produce mastitis alert lists that report cows likely to have clinical mastitis (CM). A farmer has to check these listed cows to confirm a CM case and to start an antimicrobial treatment if necessary. In order to make a more informed decision, it would be beneficial to have information about the CM causal pathogen at the same time a cow is listed on the mastitis alert list. Therefore, this study explored whether decision-tree induction was able to predict the Gram-status of CM causal pathogens using in-line sensor measurements from automatic milking systems. Data were collected at nine Dutch dairy farms milking with automatic milking systems and included 140 bacteriological cultured CM cases with sensor measurements of electrical conductivity, colors red, green, and blue and milk yield for analyses. In total, 110 CM cases were classified as Gram-positive CM cases and 30 as Gram-negative. Stratified randomization was used to divide the data in a training set (n = 96) for model development, and a test set (n = 44) for validation. The decision tree used three variables to predict the Gram-status of the CM causal pathogen; two variables were based on electrical conductivity measurements, and one on measurements of the color blue. This decision tree had an accuracy of 90.6% and a kappa value of 0.76 based on data in the training set. When only those CM cases were considered with extreme high probability estimates for their Gram-status (either positive or negative), 74% of all records in the training set could be classified with a stratified accuracy of 97.1%. When validated, the decision tree performed poorly; accuracy dropped to 54.5% and the kappa value to -0.20. The stratified accuracy calculated for 75% of all records in the test set was 66.7%. Predicting the CM causal pathogen showed a similar poor result; the decision tree had an accuracy of 27.9% and a kappa of 0.12, based on data in the test set. Based on these results, it is concluded that decision-tree induction in conjunction with sensor information from the electrical conductivity, color, and milk yield provide insufficient discriminative power to predict the Gram-status or the CM causal pathogen itself. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-94
JournalComputers and Electronics in Agriculture
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • somatic-cell count
  • bovine mastitis
  • infrared thermography
  • subclinical mastitis
  • dairy-cows
  • milking
  • temperature
  • patterns
  • efficacy
  • quarter


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