15 June 2001

Video to keep eye on pigs and poultry

REAL-TIME monitoring of animal performance could be the answer to reducing nutrient losses into the environment caused by overfeeding pigs and poultry.

An integrated management system which allows dietary inputs to be adjusted daily, can avoid overfeeding and, therefore, reduce nutrient losses, said Colin Whittemore of the University of Edinburgh.

"For pigs, the system will use video imaging to act as an accurate stockmans eye. It can detect problems, such as lameness, early and accurately predict growth rates."

Prof Whittemore believes that the proportion of dietary nitrogen excreted by pigs can be reduced from 66% to 40%, using this approach.

In a second project, equipment is being developed for daily monitoring of bird performance in broiler houses. Silsoe Research Institute is currently testing a modified perch which weighs birds, said the institutes Adam Robertson.

"Over a day, a representative sample of birds use the perch, allowing accurate monitoring of weight gain in a broiler house." &#42