Automated Reproduction Monitoring: Innovations and Applications for Dairy Cattle Farming


Precision breeding has been developing rapidly throughout the world since the early 2000s to optimize the management of livestock farms in a changing context. One of the most important targets of these tools is the automated detection of heat in response to increased herd size and poor expression of heat. Many tools are available commercially, which is why they are increasingly prevalent on dairy farms. The main systems deployed in France work by detecting the increase in physical activity concomitant with estrus. Although tests of the sensors on farms have generally been positive, the cost/benefit ratio of setting up the systems, depending on the livestock system, is difficult to evaluate (impact on productivity and profitability, impact on working conditions). At the same time, the sensors on livestock farms generate large quantities of data that are not being exploited. In the field of reproduction, the prospects for using these data for phenotyping and selecting traits such as heat expression and cycles seem within reach


The objective of the MARIAGE project is to develop innovative applications and strategies to make the most of the sensors already in place on livestock farms, based on the example of heat detection.

Analyze the reasons why farmers purchase the systems

and estimate their improvement in working conditions

Produce a method for analyzing the cost/benefit ratio of installing sensor systems

for automated heat detection

Characterize new phenotypes and reproductive monitoring indicators

from automated records of reproductive sensors

Dispositif d’étude

Action 1 – Investing in a sensor system: multi-criteria evaluation of the cost/benefit ratio.

The objectives of this action are (1) to identify what motivates farmers to purchase a reproduction monitoring system and evaluate the improvement in working conditions through surveys and (2) to estimate the impact on productivity and profitability through simulation. Based on the results, we will develop a tool to help livestock farmers decide whether or not to invest in a system, and if so, help them decide which system to buy.

Action 2 – Using a sensor system: from individual use to collective data exploitation.

The objectives of this action are to characterize new phenotypes on cow heat expression and cycles and to develop new indicators for monitoring reproductive performance at the herd level, based on data from the sensors. To this end, a database for the project will be set up, using heat detection sensor data provided by Medria Technologies on approximately 100,000 animals.

Action 3 – Coordination and transfer of the project’s achievements.

The objective of this action is to organize the project and transfer the results of the project to a wide audience: livestock farmers and their advisors, sensor manufacturers and distributors, as well as education and research.

Expected Deliverables

  • A typology of livestock farmers based on how they use heat detection sensor systems
  • An estimate of the improvement in working conditions derived from a system
  • A tool to help farmers decide whether to invest in a system based on the cost/benefit ratio taking into account 3 criteria (productivity, profitability, organizational issues)
  • New phenotypes to characterize heat expression and cycles, a preliminary step to a genetic evaluation based on these traits (not part of the project)
  • Indicators for monitoring reproductive performance at the herd level
  • Technical and scientific publications, press articles, technical data sheets and training courses on precision livestock farming

Our participation

Reprocessing of HeatPhone data from 01/01/2010 to 31/12/2014 from 1087 dairy farms (cows and heifers) with data and indicators developed specifically for this project.

The volume of raw data to be reprocessed: 2.5 TB – 15 days of data reprocessing 24 hours a day using a specific environment.

Work in progress: study and statistical analysis of the database.


Project supported by 3 Joint Research Units: “Health Control of Bovine Herds”, “Dairy Research and Engineering”, and “Genetic and Genomic Management of Bovine Populations”.

More informations about Mariage?