Farmer Focus: Gilts to trial condition-scoring camera tech

I hope everyone is well and has seen at least some improvement to weather conditions. It’s better here now, albeit still not as warm as we would like it to be.

Further to my last piece on optimisation of feed plans for gilts during gestation, we are soon to have some innovative technology fitted in our gestation accommodation.

We are working with a company that is going to install an automated weigh scale and camera in the feed station exit corridor.

See also: How gilt ration tweaks are helping improve pig litter size

About the author

Jack Bosworth
Livestock Farmer Focus writer Essex pig farmer Jack Bosworth farms 263ha of arable and a 540-sow farrow-to-finish operation in partnership with his family. About 60% of pigs are finished at home and 150 are sent to a farm in Norfolk to finish on a bed and breakfast contract.
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The concept is that a weight will be assigned to sow cards through electronic identification recognition, allowing us to monitor weights every time gilts and sows exit feed stations.

The camera will work in collaboration with the scales, and the system will be “trained” to recognise pig body condition based on the images it captures. 

We are excited about this new bit of technology going into what is an already advanced area of the unit.

We hope this collection of new data will be of huge value for the company testing the condition-scoring camera and provide us with a lot more data and insight to make informed decisions.

For example, we could tailor feeding plans to individual animals and have increased confidence in doing so.

Also, we could replace some current metrics we feed to, such as age and parity. We would also save time on manual body condition scoring.

Elsewhere on the farm, it has been another busy month. Emma has been brilliant in the office with year-end administrative work and Ed has done remarkably well to get the spring barley drilled.

He managed to get the crops in while navigating round our customers for the contract spreading work we do.

We have also continued to make progress with infrastructure upgrades. This includes installing better alarm-monitoring systems on pig buildings and putting in a new weighbridge.

Other tasks going on in the background have included Farming Equipment and Technology Fund applications for productivity and slurry grants, preparation for a planning appeal, tackling the issues of succession and reviewing our succession plans.