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In traditional pig production systems, controlling the growth of piglets during the growing and fattening phases is difficult. Manual weighing requires much time and efforts, and also causes stress for pigs and often gives not very reliable results.
However,  there is technology that allows you to automate animal weighing and monitor production performance. Read more about it in the article below.

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Automatic pig weighing: how does it work?

The automatic weighing system for pigs using video cameras consists of a camera installed above the pen (most often above the feeders), a computer that converts the image into digital data of the weight of animals, as well as a special software module that transmits and accumulates information on daily gains, average, minimum and maximum weight of pigs in the pen.

The system weighs animals in three steps:

1. When the pig comes to the feeder (active zone of the camera), the system photographs it.
2. The image of the animal (top view) is measured and divided into 3 parts: front, center and back (Photo 1). The system analyzes the relationship between the two.
3. Since the size of the pig in the picture correlates with its mass, the system converts the image data into kilograms.

So, thanks to the automatic weighing system, you can get real-time data, which will determine the increase in pig mass and its dependence on feed consumption. This helps to quickly identify and take the necessary measures in case of deviation from the target indicators. In addition, the automatic weighing system can track the level of feed and water consumption by animals, control their activity and daily rhythm, optimize feeding and, thus, improve the efficiency of the production economy. Indeed, according to the calculations of Danish experts, if we reduce the conversion of feed for pigs on growing-fattening by 0.1 feed. units per 1 kg of growth, profit per head will grow by an average of 2 euros.

Practical use of weighing pigs using a camera:

Last year, Danish scientists conducted three large-scale practical experiments to determine the effectiveness of using a remote weighing system for pigs (using cameras) to optimize feeding. During the experiments, they observed the growths and the level of feed intake by weaners until they reached a weight of 30 kg. The object of each test was two groups of 1400 piglets. Feed consumption was measured using controllers, and the weight of weaners was determined by remote weighing - four cameras per room with each group of animals.

During the first experiment - the traditional raising of pigs - with the help of this unique weighing system, it was possible to identify periods when piglets cease to gain weight or even lose weight (Figure 1). This allowed to adjust the production system, which was verified in the following experiments.

So, in experiment II, the number of feed additives was increased - from one (experiment I) to four times. In addition, the duration of daylight hours in the room was increased by 1.5 hours per day (compared with experience and weaning batch) to 16 hours / day.
The obtained data on monitoring the mass of animals during the study (Figure 2) demonstrated the positive effect of the measures taken - stable gains and, as a result, a more homogeneous batch.

Despite the positive dynamics of production indicators obtained during the preliminary experiment, the same feeding system (4-fold) and lighting of the production room (16 hours / day) were organized for experiment III. However, instead of abruptly switching from one type of feed to another, a new feed was introduced gradually, mixing it with the previous one and increasing the share in the diet daily.
The results of the experiment (Figure 3) showed that due to this approach, the average daily feed intake and growth increased. Cases of weight loss of pigs were almost not observed.

Comparing the data of three experiments (Figure 4), it is noticeable that the growth curve of animals in experiment III is much smoother compared to others, and weaners in this batch gained a lot of weight over the same period. In addition, as a result of experiment III, we recorded an increase in feed consumption, which was 9 kg higher than that in study II.

Thus, remote weighing of pigs using video cameras and the ability to control average daily gains and the level of feed intake makes it possible to identify deviations in production indicators of animals. And on the basis of this - to make adjustments to the feeding system and keeping animals, increasing the efficiency of growing.

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