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Analysing thermal images to detect diseased feet in sheep 2017

Two students, one from the wildlife conservation programme and another from the animal behaviour and psychology combined programme, were involved in a project analysing over 1,500 thermal images of sheep feet (see figure 1)
and legs (see figure 2).

The images were collected by Dr Krista McLennan during the Animal Welfare Indicators (AWIN) project, an EU funded project that Krista worked on as a post-doctoral student at the University of Cambridge from Oct 2012 to August 2015.


Figure 1. Feet of a diseased foot on a sheep. Note the dark colour (cold) on the left claw and the bright yellow/white (heat) on the right claw indicating inflammation.

The images were from sheep identified as having a naturally occurring inflammatory painful disease called foot rot and that of healthy animals with no sign of obvious disease. Thermal imaging was used to investigate the use of this technology in detecting inflammation associated with this disease.

The two students were able to develop a number of skills throughout the project including project management, team working, data handling skills and learning to use new software.


Figure 2. Leg of a control animal. Note the even colouring of dark and light down the leg to the interdigital space.