Smartphone app to use facial recognition technology to identify cows

More than a year in the making, a partnership with between K-State and a Kansas based business has led to the creation of Cow Facial Recognition technology.

Black Hereford Holdings, based in Kansas City, presented the concept of CattleTracs, a Cow Facial Recognition technology, to KC Olson, professor and Beef Cattle scientist at K-State last fall.

“This is the beginning of developing a national database to protect animal health and to protect people’s private…private property.” K-State Research and Extension, professor and Beef Cattle scientist, KC Olson says.

Farmers and ranchers voluntarily submit health and other information about their cattle through the soon to be released smartphone app.

“It associates a picture or several pictures of an animals head with a GPS coordinate and a date.” Olson says.

The technology uses pictures of the animal’s head and face to identify each animal based on unique characteristics and track the animal throughout its lifetime.

“Cattle don’t lose their faces, hardly ever, and…. the incremental cost of a system like this is actually close to zero.”  Olson says.

The system would allow for specific animal group quarantines in the event of a widespread disease outbreak. Right now, they require large area quarantines.

“The most important component, in the view of I and my K-State colleagues, is we now have the beginnings of a national animal disease traceability process, that doesn’t add expense, that doesn’t violate producers right to privacy.” Olson says.

Participation in the program is completely voluntary,

“Nobody’s name or personal data transits with that picture. The app is very simple, it only recognizes cattle.” Olson says.

The CattleTracs app will be released to the public in late October.

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