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This paper describes the development of an automated technique using laser technology to estimate hip height of cattle. Body dimensions of cattle are very useful as basic descriptors, but can also be used to predict animal performance and carcass characteristics. Descriptive data used for trading needs to be objective and low cost to encourage value based transactions and assist producers to meet market specifications. Height at the hips relative to age (referred to in the industry as frame score) provides an assessment of ‘maturity type’, which determines the varying rates and sites of deposition of fat and lean tissue as an animal grows and approaches its mature size. Body dimensions such as hip height and stifle width can be easily measured manually but are labour and time consuming. An automated electronic system would make the capture of such data objective and more cost efficient. The system developed can be incorporated into typical cattle handling facilities to measure body dimensions and generate useful descriptive parameters. The principle has subsequently been extended to explore the capability of 3D camera technology to improve and expand data capture for descriptive and predictive applications.


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