From classical methods to animal biometrics: A review on cattle identification and tracking

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

106 Citations (Scopus)


Cattle, buffalo and cow, identification has recently played an influential role towards understanding disease trajectory, vaccination and production management, animal traceability, and animal ownership assignment. Cattle identification and tracking refers to the process of accurately recognizing individual cattle and their products via a unique identifier or marker. Classical cattle identification and tracking methods such as ear tags, branding, tattooing, and electrical methods have long been in use; however, their performance is limited due to their vulnerability to losses, duplications, fraud, and security challenges. Owing to their uniqueness, immutability, and low costs, biometric traits mapped into animal identification systems have emerged as a promising trend. Biometric identifiers for beef animals include muzzle print images, iris patterns, and retinal vascular patterns. Although using biometric identifiers has replaced human experts with computerized systems, it raises additional challenges in terms of identifier capturing, identification accuracy, processing time, and overall system operability. This article reviews the evolution in cattle identification and tracking from classical methods to animal biometrics. It reports on traditional animal identification methods and their advantages and problems. Moreover, this article describes the deployment of biometric identifiers for effectively identifying beef animals. The article presents recent research findings in animal biometrics, with a strong focus on cattle biometric identifiers such as muzzle prints, iris patterns, and retinal vascular patterns. A discussion of current challenges involved in the biometric-based identification systems appears in the conclusions, which may drive future research directions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-435
Number of pages13
JournalComputers and Electronics in Agriculture
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Beef animals
  • Biometrics science
  • Cattle identification
  • Cattle tracking
  • Iris patterns
  • Muzzle prints
  • Retinal vascular patterns

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Horticulture


Dive into the research topics of 'From classical methods to animal biometrics: A review on cattle identification and tracking'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this