T-LEAP: Occlusion-robust pose estimation of walking cows using temporal information

Helena Russello*, Rik van der Tol, Gert Kootstra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


As herd size on dairy farms continues to increase, automatic health monitoring of cows is gaining in interest. Lameness, a prevalent health disorder in dairy cows, is commonly detected by analyzing the gait of cows. A cow's gait can be tracked in videos using pose estimation models because models learn to automatically localize anatomical landmarks in images and videos. Most animal pose estimation models are static, that is, videos are processed frame by frame and do not use any temporal information. In this work, a static deep-learning model for animal-pose-estimation was extended to a temporal model that includes information from past frames. We compared the performance of the static and temporal pose estimation models. The data consisted of 1059 samples of 4 consecutive frames extracted from videos (30 fps) of 30 different dairy cows walking through an outdoor passageway. As farm environments are prone to occlusions, we tested the robustness of the static and temporal models by adding artificial occlusions to the videos. The experiments showed that, on non-occluded data, both static and temporal approaches achieved a Percentage of Correct Keypoints (PCKh@0.2) of 99%. On occluded data, our temporal approach outperformed the static one by up to 32.9%, suggesting that using temporal data was beneficial for pose estimation in environments prone to occlusions, such as dairy farms. The generalization capabilities of the temporal model was evaluated by testing it on data containing unknown cows (cows not present in the training set). The results showed that the average PCKh@0.2 was of 93.8% on known cows and 87.6% on unknown cows, indicating that the model was capable of generalizing well to new cows and that they could be easily fine-tuned to new herds. Finally, we showed that with harder tasks, such as occlusions and unknown cows, a deeper architecture was more beneficial.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106559
JournalComputers and Electronics in Agriculture
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • Cattle
  • Deep learning
  • Gait
  • Occlusion
  • Pose estimation
  • Temporal


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