Keep tabs on herd via VIA

19 May 2000

Keep tabs on herd via VIA

EFFORTLESS recording of pig weight and conformation is possible following the commercial launch of Visual Image Analysis (VIA) equipment developed at the Silsoe Research Institute, Beds.

Currently VIA can be used in conjunction with Fire feeders – mainly used by breeders – which allow individual pig feed intakes to be measured using electronic ear tags. But further work at the Institute and the products manufacturing company, Osborne, means they should be available to commercial producers within 12 months.

"A small, high resolution video camera attached to the feeder captures a pigs image when it comes to feed. Computer software measures the pigs area and from this information can calculate an estimate of its weight and measure aspects of its shape," explains Silsoe researcher Paddy Schofield.

Launching VIA at last weeks Pig and Poultry Fair, Osborne service manager David Patterson said it is a low cost alternative to weighing. "There is no need for producers to undertake the labour intensive task of weighing pigs. Electronic ear tags ensure that data is assigned to the correct pig."

Fire feeders fitted with VIA cost about £3500 each with 15 pigs/feeder being the recommended number.

Within 12 months Osborne hopes to adapt the system for use in conjuction with any single space feeders, or drinkers, used by electronically ear tagged pigs. This will enable pigs to be selected for slaughter based on weight and conformation characteristics."

Further refinement may allow fat and lean content assessment.

technique, according to Mr Schofield. "As well as weight, we hope to be able to measure pigs fat and lean content to assist with selection for breeding or slaughter.

"Where Fire feeders are used, this development would enable individual pigs diets to be altered on a daily basis according to their growth and body condition which should reduce production cost."

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