Just three years ago, Terry Canning successfully launched CattleEye, with an ambition to be a world-first application of the latest deep learning and artificial intelligence technology, set to transform farming. Rebecca Jordan finds out more.

Completely hands-free monitoring of cow health and welfare sounds futuristic, but it’s already being used on farms and saving significant amounts of money. And, such was the success of its invention, its founder, Terry Canning, and his team, were crowned Agri-tech Innovator of the Year at the 2021 British Farming Awards. To date, the technology – which monitors cow mobility and condition score via a camera mounted in the parlour – has achieved an average £100/cow/year efficiency for 30,000 cows worldwide. CattleEye analyses individual images through cloud computing using an artificial intelligence algorithm loosely based on human facial recognition technology. Calculated data highlights potential problems with lameness or a change in cow condition which is sent to a smartphone app. Terry, who was raised on a dairy farm in Co Armagh, Northern Ireland, says: “I have a background in software telecommunications so when I sold FarmWizard in 2015 I looked for technology applicable to the livestock industry. “I met Adam Askew, who was responsible for Tissue Mark, a deep learning application to automatically detect and quantify cancer in tissue samples. “We came up with the idea of applying that technology to monitoring dairy cows. After securing funding we were able to develop the algorithm and launch CattleEye in 2019.”


Terry’s goal is a marked improvement in animal welfare, thereby enhancing the lives of farmers and livestock worldwide, as well as helping farmers to achieve Net Zero. CattleEye has attracted industry re-tailers such as Tesco and Marks & Spencer thanks to its transparency. “We provide retailers with assurance and evidence their suppliers are managing livestock health and welfare which, in turn, protects their reputation and helps secure customer loyalty.” Research from the UK Animal Health and Welfare Technical Directorate shows that a 10 per cent decrease in lameness in an average dairy herd saves £91.25/cow/year. And in trials on a Welsh dairy farm, validated by Liverpool University, CattleEye reduced herd lameness from 25.4 per cent to 13.5 per cent in six months, with early detection increasing from 2 per cent to 7 per cent. Early treatment of lameness increases recovery time and longevity, therefore improving yield – not to mention reduced reliance on antibiotics. This efficiency reduces feed costs as cows are fed for milk production and maintenance – not also to reclaim condition lost to pain.


Increased longevity and the cow’s associated higher lifetime milk yield offsets the cost of rearing that cow to its first lactation. This has been calculated as a 5 per cent efficiency, saving 0.5 tonnes of carbon/cow/year and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30 per cent per litre of milk. All this is achieved at a cost of £1/cow/month. CattleEye does not require cattle to wear collars or pedometers. Stock are identified by their individual shape, bone structure, colouring and gait – with 98 per cent accuracy – through the computer algorithm. Work is ongoing to ensure poor internet connection is not a limiting factor on some farms. “We are finding ways to improve the time it takes to upload data from farms with large herds and/ or long milking times,” says Terry. Terry and his team have no intention of just leaving their mark in the parlour. The goal is to have 500,000 dairy cows around the world passing under CattleEye’s gaze by 2025, with the capacity to reach one billion head in the future. CattleEye is extending its considerations to oestrous detection as well as monitoring cow sleeping, lying and eating patterns. Research is also underway to create algorithms to improve poultry welfare and help beef producers finish cattle at target weight and fat specifications. “I’ve chosen to do something really novel which would have a big impact.


“Innovation is vital in delivering simple solutions. I am delighted CattleEye won Agri-tech Innovator of the Year as the competition is so fierce. “Every external endorsement and award gives us a stamp of approval which helps with farmers’ confidence in our product.”