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1. (WO2019009857) METHOD OF DETECTING ESTROUS PERIOD OF COWS BY A DRONE
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METHOD OF DETECTING ESTROUS PERIOD OF COWS BY A DRONE

TECHNICAL FIELD

The invention is about a system that provides detection of estrous in cows with a drone and gains time to cattle breeders by saving labor, making the operations easy and minimize the errors due to human.

Said invention will provide trouble-free job convenience thanks to its software that shortens the calving interval of cows, provides economic advantage and is easy to use. Thanks to the algorithm of the software to be installed on the drone, an automation has been developed which can detect the cow's estrous based on the principle of matching the images with the image processing techniques by taking photographs that show the behavior and physical properties of the cows' estrous period.

PRIOR ART

In parallel with the developments in computer technology, the use of Image Processing Systems (IPS) in animal husbandry field focused on more production period, health and quality control before storage and consumption, examination of growth and development, determination of morphological characteristics, evaluation, grading or standardization according to color characteristics of animal products (Van Asseldonk et al. 1998). It is also possible to use IPS for body development and detection of growth by examining the dimensions and shape. When such a system is used, grouping the animals according to their development status and performing separate maintenance and feeding practices on the grouped animals are important for the scientific studies in which the growth phenomenon is examined as well as for the operating economy. For example, within the scope of the research conducted by Onal et al., measurements such as Withers Height (WH), Back Height (BH), Rump Height (RH), Back Rump Height (BRH), Chest Depth (CD), Whole Body Length (WBL) and Body Length (BL) were obtained by IPS. In another study conducted by Viazzi et al. (2014), the problem of lameness, which is common in cattle, was automatically detected.

Precision agriculture technologies which are currently used in the agricultural sector are also used in some areas of animal husbandry. Especially in animal behavior, image processing equipment is being studied extensively. The increase in the use of remote sensing technologies and image interpretation is due to faster and cheaper results (Floyd, 1996).

Images are obtained using different physical devices such as video cameras, X-ray devices, electron microscopes, radars and ultrasound devices. These images were previously used for entertainment, health, business, industry, military, civilian, security and scientific purposes but nowadays the new field of use for these images is agriculture. In all cases, the objective is to obtain useful information about the location displayed for an observer (human or machine). For example, Mollo Neto et al. (2004) used an image processing system based on the quality control system rules and developed an automated inspection system that classifies wet blue skin. It has been demonstrated through studies that video analysis is a potential tool for assessing the movements of domestic animals and for investigating the relationship between their environment and their behavior (Dao et al. 2015; Souza et al., 2004: Bercovich et al. 2015). In addition, video analysis is used to more accurately investigate the effect of the environment on the physiological responses of animals and to monitor the temperature of the animal's body surface or the temperature of the animal's environment (thermography). For example, in an experiment in free stalls in Southeast Brazil, data on the behavior of cows desired to be observed were obtained using this method (Souza et al. 2004). Matlab® (6.1 ) software has been used to develop an algorithm for identifying animals with the help of image segmentation suggested by Souza et al. (2004) and Shao et al. (1998).

Drones or long-name unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) were first developed for the defense industry like many of the technologies of the 20th century. The use of these vehicles in military attacks, which were initially designed for observation purposes, has allowed them to be recognized by wider masses. Today's UAV technology is a leading player in many different sectors. UAVs are in use in the film industry, especially in the defense and defense industry, there is even today in the transportation industry (package delivery) that comes along with Amazon. The use of autonomous systems in agricultural production, which have the power to make decisions and implement decisions, are considered to be an important tool. Farmers who want to follow the technology in this way can also have an idea about the ripening of their crops thanks to the infrared rays on the drones. In addition, observing the animal species that are in danger of extinction in their natural environment by drones without intervention and tracking them are among the facilities provided by this technology. Professional drones can even carry DSLR cameras that can turn in every direction. However, the most common accessory is based on the logic of placing a simple fixed GoPro-style video camera on the front of the drone. GPS add-ons are becoming increasingly popular and these accessories become available for drones as well.

The most important yield in cattle breeding is fertility, which is based on accurate determination of estrous. The process in which the male and female reproductive cells in the functional state are arranged to find each other in the reproductive organs of the female that is in estrous period is called "insemination". Insemination can be done naturally or artificially. As long as the cow is not pregnant, it enters the estrous period at an average of 21 days intervals. The cycle of estrous may change for even the same animal. Nevertheless, it is very rare that the time period between the two estrous periods went up to 21 days or fell below 18 days. Inseminated cows should be closely monitored at least twice a day for the next 3 weeks following the last estrous period.

Cows normally do not enter the estrous period during the pregnancy. However, with very few, this situation can be experienced otherwise. Such cows often have dead births at the end of the estrous. Nonetheless, there are also cows that gives normal birth at the end of the pregnancy period, which enters estrous period in regular intervals during their pregnancy. If the pregnant cow in the estrous period is artificially inseminated, it will give a dead birth or the fetus will be mummified. Because during the artificial insemination the cervical region is damaged and the cervical plug is deteriorated.

The first estrous after birth is approximately seen in 6-10 weeks after birth. But this period can be shortened to 4 weeks. The time from birth to the first

estrous is very important. There are many factors that are effective on the length of this time. The effects of these factors are mostly that the estrous is delayed. First of all, before the cow is re-inseminated, it is necessary to wait for the cow's genitals to return to its normal state. This period of time, called "involution time", depends on many factors and most importantly the type of delivery (single, twin, difficult birth), the season of calving, the number of calves and the race. §ekerden et al. (1996c) reported that uterine involution in the study performed on Jerseys was largely completed within 14 days after calving, but was fully complete in 28 days, but the calf's birth weight and calving season caused significant variation in uterine involution duration. The duration of pregnancy in dairy cows is 270-280 days. The cow should conceive 75-80 days after calving in order to reach 365 days, which is the ideal calving interval.

In an effective progeny, the function of the female is much more complex than the male. Because, the role of the female in the breeding continues after the insemination. Functions of the female in reproduction can be named as; produce a living egg (female sex cell), deliver the egg to the part where fertilization will take place, fertilization, embryo development, prepare appropriate environment for implantation and fetus development, ensure that the calf reaches live and healthy at the end of the pregnancy period, bringing reproductive organs to their normal situations that have worn out during birth.

The egg that develops in the follicles of the ovaries is released from the follicles. The released egg is taken up by the infundibulum of the egg channel. If the cow is breeded during this time, the egg can be fertilized in the egg channel. After 4-6 days of fertilization the zygote is transported to the uterine horn. It is implanted into the uterus 30-33 days after fertilization. The embryo stays here during the entire developmental period. Finally, at the end of the pregnancy period, the calf gets out of the body through the cervix, vagina and vulva.

Reproduction in the female cattle, means egg production and ovulation, begins at 6-10 months of age. This period is called "adolescence". The female shows a desire to breed with an average of 21 day intervals after reaching the age of adolescence. Externally visible signs of breeding are called "estrous symptoms". Each estrous period is 18 hours on average. The behavioral

characteristics of the animal which is estrous period vary greatly. It allows other animals in the flock to jump over and it jump overs on other animals, when examined closely it is seen that its vulva swollen and a gentle flow comes from it, not often but there may also be a slight blood leak from its vulva until a day or two after the end of estrous.

After a period of estrous ending, a follicle is broken up and the necessary conditions for pregnancy are created by releasing a matured egg. The time between the end of estrous and the time of ovulation varies from 5 to 16 hours. But fertilization occurs in just a few minutes. For this reason, if the insemination is being carried out towards the end of the estrous season, or even it is artificial insemination, it may be appropriate to do it several hours after the estrous. If this is done, the presence of functional sperm will be guaranteed when the egg is released into the egg channel.

As mentioned above, the ovulation is known to be 14-16 hours later or later than the end of estrous. For this reason, delaying artificial insemination until the end of the day after estrous has been discovered increases the chances of fertilization. However, it should be known that this practice may also cause embryonic mortality. The reason for this is the senescence of the egg, rather than the sperm. Because, as in other pet species, sperm cells in cattle need to be exposed to the uterine secretion for several hours before the egg gains fertilization ability. This phenomenon, called capacitation, can explain the low conception rate that occurs when the seeding is done before or after it is necessary.

Detection of estrous is perhaps the greatest challenge of insemination. Because in insemination, a human determines whether the cow is in estrous period or not, instead of a bull.

Cows show a wide variety of estrous indications; they scream, run and jump over other cows. In addition, their appetite diminishes and their yield decreases. However, everyone cannot easily understand the mentioned changes. For this, it must be well known what kind of behavior the cows will show in their estrous period.

- To know the estrous cycle of the cows in the flock:

The time between two estrous periods is 90% likely to be 18-24 days. Cows which enters the estrous period at longer intervals should be recorded and monitored closely.

- Cows' estrous periods must be checked frequently:

The estrous period is 18 hours on average, ranging from 4 hours to 14 hours. For this reason, it is necessary to try to understand whether or not they are in estrous period, by monitoring them while feeding, milking and all other times.

Various studies have shown that 70% of the jumping over events in cows which are in their estrous period, occur between 06:00 and 18:00 (Etgen and Reaves, 1978). However, when the weather is hot, the activity is quite high at night too. For this reason, it is appropriate to control the estrous period, late afternoon and early in the morning.

- 3. Determining the best breeding time to achieve an optimal pregnancy rate:

After the egg has been ovulated, it can remain fertile for a very short period of time, such as 2-4 hours. The ovulation time is 5-6 hours after the end of the estrous, as mentioned earlier. The sperm can remain fertile for up to 28 hours in the female reproductive organ. For this reason, the breeding time, at which optimum fertilization rate can be achieved, is very limited. If the breeding is done in the middle of the estrous period, the highest pregnancy rate is achieved. If the breeding is earlier or later than the middle of the estrous, it reduces the pregnancy rate. In order to be able to make the insemination at the most appropriate time under the light of all this information, if the estrous is noticed in the morning, the insemination should be done in the afternoon or in the evening but if the estrous is noticed in the afternoon or in the evening the insemination should be done in the next morning. However, these suggestions are made assuming that the average estrous period is 18 hours, the average ovulation time is 10-11 hours after the end of estrous, when estrous is detected, it is very close to the beginning of the estrous cycle. A farmer who performs estrous control at 12-hour intervals may even need to inseminate his/her cow as soon as detecting the estrous. In

case of artificial insemination, the breeding period can be extended up to 6 hours after the end of estrous. However, further delay of insemination reduces fertility rapidly.

Estrous Periods

Since estrous is not seasonal in cows, they may show estrous all year. The average estrous cycle is 21 days, ranging from 14-25 days. As in other pets, the estrous cycle consists of four periods in cows: Proestrus, Estrous, Metoestrus and Diestrous.

Proestrus: This stage of the estrous involves the development of follicles, releasing of estrogen, is a period of 2-4 days, and occurs between the 17th and 20th days. In this stage,

• The corpus luteum regression of the previous cycle and the progesterone concentration in the circulation begin to decrease.

• The dominant follicle becomes apparent and begins to produce estradiol. In late proestrus, effects of estrogen on reproductive channel and behavioral changes can be observed.

Estrous: Estrous duration is shorter comparing to other pets. The changes that started during the proestrus period increased even more during this period, which could be 18 hours approximately:

Uterus vessels are filled with blood, cervix loosens and opens,

The vagina becomes lubricious to help the breeding,

In uterus, with the effect of oxytocin, contractions occur from the tail to the head.

Estrous appears with inner and outer estrous indications. Primarily outer estrous indications are: it is considered to be the 1st day of the new cycle. The dominant follicle reaches its maximum size, matures and becomes an ovule. Ovulation occurs after an average of 30 hours from the beginning of the estrous. The ovulation is triggered by LH at high concentration (preovulatory LH pike).

Estrous is also called rut and lasts from 4 to 24 hours. During the estrous the cow / heifer agrees to breed. With effects of the estrogen, estrous behaviors occur:

• anxiety

• decrease in milk yield

• standing still when another animal jumps over

• cervical mucus

• vulva edema

Metoestrus

Metoestrus is a two-day transition period following the end of estrous. 2nd-4th Days:

• Estrous is ended

· Corpus luteum (CL) occurs

• Progesterone concentration begins to raise

In this period, 90% of the heifers and 45% of the cows have a "metoestrus bleeding". Vaginal mucus with blood clots is observed in the tail and perineum area. Fertilization occurs infrequently when the animal is fertilized during this bleeding, which is called as metoestrus bleeding. Finding blood does not mean conception or termination of pregnancy.

Diestrous

Diestrous is the longest stage in the cow's estrous cycle. In this period of approximately fifteen days, the corpus luteum, which started in the period of metoestrus, completed its normal development during this period.

5th - 17th Days:

• Corpus luteum's size and function are at maximum level

• Progesterone concentration increases

· At the end of the diestrous, the corpus luteum begins to lyse.

Anestrous

Cows shows an estrous every 21 days as long as they are not pregnant. The next 30-90 days after the calving is out of this rule and they show anestrous state after birth. The duration of anestrous varies depending on factors such as race, temperature, light and nutrition.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

In most of our country, cattle breeding is carried out in the form of family-owned small businesses with a few animals, which are rather scattered. In many enterprises, taking into consideration the secondary symptoms of estrous determination due to the fact that animals are constantly kept closed and attached in the stable, raising the rate of misdetection of estrous by farmers. Estrous detection, which is the most important point for fertility in cattle breeding, is still a challenge. The success of estrous detection in cows for various reasons may vary (Chart 1 ).

Chart . Main sources of mistakes in estrous detection

One of the biggest problems is calm estrous. Calm estrous is defined as the state in which the ovaries are functioning normally and the estrous is not observed despite ovulation (Gray and Varner, 2003).

Secret estrous arises from the disruption in ovulation, ovulation occurs normally but no estrous is observed. Occurrence of secret estrous is commonly

seen within 25 to 40 days after birth. This is not a problem, it shows that the cow is not ready for insemination.

In some studies performed in field conditions, it is reported that 13-32% of artificial inseminated cows are inseminated when they are not in estrous, and this proportion is up to 50% in some cases. It is also reported that 5-15% of the cows with well-care and nutritional conditions show estrous symptoms despite the fact that they are pregnant, and because of being inseminated these animals give dead births. The transfer of practical methods to the field to aid the correct identification of the estrous to prevent such mistakes is crucial for increasing the rate of pregnancy. Although a variety of helping methods have been developed to facilitate these difficulties in estrous detection, the most important method used by breeders in determining estrous is still the observation method.

Classical methods used in estrous detection are observation and calendar method. The technical methods are measurement of vaginal heat, measurement of resistance of the vaginal mucosa with conductivity meter, milk / blood progesterone test, measurement of vagina pH, measurement of body temperature, teaser bull, ultrasonographic examination, evaluation of milk yield, measurement of the milk temperature, pedometer, pressure sensitive jump detector (KaMaR) and tail painting method.

The invention is about a system that provides detection of estrous in cows with a drone and gains time to cattle breeders by saving labor, making the operations easy and minimize the errors due to human. Thanks to the algorithm of the software to be installed on the drone, an automation has been developed which can detect the cow's estrous based on the principle of matching the images with the image processing techniques by taking photographs that show the behavior and physical properties of the cows' estrous period.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The invention comprises a drone, a camera connected to the drone, image processing software including a specific algorithm, and a standby platform on which the drone can be charged while waiting.

Drones or long-name unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) were first developed for the defense industry like many of the technologies of the 20th century. The use of these vehicles in military attacks, which were initially designed for observation purposes, has allowed them to be recognized by wider masses.

The unmanned aerial vehicles which have the power to make decisions and implement decisions (autonomous), shortly called drones. Today's UAV technology is in use in the film industry, especially in the defense and defense industry and in package delivery.

Farmers who want to follow the technology in this way can also have an idea about the ripening of their crops thanks to the infrared rays on the drones. In addition, observing the animal species that are in danger of extinction in their natural environment by drones without intervention and tracking them are among the facilities provided by this technology.

Professional drones can even carry DSLR cameras that can turn in every direction. However, the most common accessory is based on the logic of placing a simple fixed video camera on the front of the drone.

Camera

The camera used with the present invention,

1. With 720P HD resolution and wide viewing angle, it is capable of capturing every detail and providing a sharper and clearer image for enhanced viewing capability.

2. With Night Vision Technology, it provides visibility and traceability as it is in daylight hours, up to 18 meters in the dark.

3. It can automatically detect a movement or a sound in the control area and sends a notification.

4. It provides access to video recordings from anywhere and at any time.

5. At 150Mbps wireless speed for constant connectivity and Wi-Fi expansion.

6. It has accessibility through the Internet.

7. Flip Feature allows it to flip images automatically.

8. It has a long record time with H264 support.

9. It has a zoom feature.

10. It has the ability to turn right and left.

Drone platform

When the drone to be developed by the invention is not in the course of travel, a charging and waiting platform is required. The details of the drone platform are given in the drawings.

Software

The software used with the system is designed to carry the following possibilities:

• Automatic storage of records by date and time

• When the cameras need to focus, zoom in or zoom out, give this command to the camera

• By storing past camera records and current images, message preparation feature and simultaneous evaluation of different position images in the barn.

It will also have the ability to track the moving cows more easily by taking the record back and forward and reporting the message. In addition, a name and a number can be specified to the desired cows during the report, thus making it easier to recall the cow in the image.

In the method according to the invention, the indications to be used in determination of the estrous are given below.

1. A temporary loss of appetite in the animal with the start of the estrous

2. Reduction of milk production in that day

High milk yield negatively affects estrous activity, especially in postpartum period. Frequent milking and breastfeeding suppress the release of reproductive hormones. Due to the inadequate secretion of these hormones, ovarian cysts in the postpartum period are also a common disorder.

3. Moody behavior in normal milking

4. Kicking her calf and acting moody, doesn't want to nurse it

5. Tends to jump over other cows

Jumping over in estrous period is seen more frequently when animals are not get disturbed with feeding, milking and cleaning in stalls. In a study where cows were observed for 80 days and 24 hours, it was determined that 70% of the jumping over activity occurred between 19.00 and 07.00 hours. In addition to all these indications, it is the most important evidence that the cow is ready to breed when it allows other animals to jump over at the beginning, middle and end of the estrous. In order for these cows to show this reflex, they must either be kept in free type stables or in the pasture.

The estrous activity in the heifers is less than the old cows and the duration of the estrous is shorter. However, it has been reported that the estrous activity in cows varies according to the number of lactations (Chart 2).


Chart 2. The relation of jumping over activity with the number of lactations

As the most important symptom, letting other animals in the group to jump over is 100% associated with estrous.

Relationship between vaginal clear flow and estrous 3, relationship between chin resting and estrous 15, relationship between grouping and estrous 3, relationship between vaginal smell and estrous 10, relationship between jumping over and estrous 35, the relationship between

hyperactivity and estrous is 5 points. These features will be weighted and the total score will be taken into account when preparing the warning list.

7. Observable contamination that occurs as a result of being jumped over on the back and rump of the cows

8. Females put their chins on each other's rumps (chin rest)

9. Sensitivity to smell

Other cows or bulls try to understand whether the cow is willing to breed by smelling its vulva or urine. During this smelling, the behavior, which is called fleshmen, allows the upper lip of the mouth to curl up to the nose to provide the smell-analyzing organ's to smell.

10. A change in animal's behavior and look

11. Starting to lick other animals

12. Showing abnormal attention to its keeper

13. When the animal is massaged in the back, the animal lowers its back, lifts its tail and directs it slightly

14. General anxiety, yelling and searching behavior in the animal

15. Its tail is moving and lifted

16. Appearance of a white (raw egg white) colored flow that is more juicy at the beginning of the estrous and more viscous in the middle of the estrous

17. In the midst of the estrous period, it does not care about the other animals to jump over on itself

18. Running to the right and left in the pasture with its tail is lifted

19. At night, while other animals are asleep, it stays awake

Cows that are close to the beginning of the estrous tend to gather together. If there is a bull around, they tend to be as close as possible to the bull. If there are more than one cow in estrus at the same time ensures that the symptoms are more distinct. It is known that the fact that if two or more cows are estrous at the same that increases the number of jump overs significantly (Chart 3).


Chart 3. The relation of the number of jump overs with the number of cows in estrous at the same time.

Changes in the body

1. The feathers on the tail head is fluffy or scattered due to the breeding. Mud or fertilizer contamination may appear on the hip or on the back during breeding.

2. The feathers on the tail or the lower part of the vulva can be matted due to the dried mucus-like fluid.

3. Vulva lips are red and slightly swollen, becomes slightly watery, when the vulva lips are opened with two fingers, the vulvar inner part is seen to have a red color (carrot color).

4. There is a flow looks like the egg-white. At the beginning of the estrous a more liquid, but in the middle of the estrous a more viscous and transparent (raw egg white) flow appears. This flow is colorless and in a threadlike character. This fluid may extend without breaking down from the vulva's lip, and may also be spread around the tail. This flow is partially visible just before the estrous. Raises in the estrous period. Decreases after the estrous and disappears.

5. In the second and third days after estrous, 90% of the heifers and 50% of the cows have a slight bloody flow (bleeding).

6. Drools.

Areas where the cows' jumping over behaviors are concentrated in the barn

The places where the cows are bred do not concentrate in the walking area or the paddock. There are places where breed actions are concentrated. These areas are called hot spots. The location of the hot spots is sometimes associated with the place of the walking. For example, it is effective if the ground is soil or concrete. Cows do not prefer concrete floors. Another hot spot might be beside the bull's division. Grazing area and pastures can be considered as hot spots. Cow milking divisions and milking chambers are rarely considered hot spots.

In the detection of the estrous period of the cows with a drone according to the invention, the drone makes a flight in the stable, when it detects one of the above-mentioned estrous behavior characteristics, it records video from different angles and takes different photos of the cows. The ear tag on the cow that is photographed is read through the RFID reader on the drone, and the captured photo or recorded video is matched with this number. The photographs are converted from analogue picture format to digital picture format, a comparison of the obtained pictures with respect to the estrous behavior characteristics, evaluation of the photographs for the estrous behavior features, comparison of the findings detected at these stages with the reference information previously coded in the database is made, the estrous indications are scored, the total score is calculated and the warning list is prepared, a warning message about the animal's estrous is prepared taking into consideration the reference information showing the most similarity in comparison and prepared to the user notification step. When this information is requested, it can be shared with the user audible, written or visually.