Automated Detection of Health and Welfare Problems in Pigs

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Justification

Subclinical & clinical disease are the main factors responsible for pig system inefficiency, resulting in reductions in productivity and pig welfare. Currently, disease detection is done through human observation or diagnostic surveillance, but continuous monitoring involves significant costs and effort.

Subclinical diseases manifest themselves as subtle changes in affected pigs, typically before clinical signs are observable. Subclinical disease will affect growth trajectories and result in atypical activity, including reductions in feeding and drinking behaviour, and reduced social interaction with other pigs.

Objective

The main objective of the project is to develop and validate technology to automatically monitor performance and behaviour in growing pigs. Individual pig and group movements will be automatically captured and analysed using low cost camera installations and computer vision and learning techniques, thereby providing information about pig performance, behaviour and group dynamics.

This information will allow for rapid intervention by farmers, in order to improve health and welfare and increase farm efficiency.

Partners

The project brings together the following industry partners;

  • Zoetis, a global animal health company that deliver quality medicines and vaccines, complemented by diagnostic products and genetics tests.
  • Raft Solutions Ltd., the UK’s leading livestock veterinary practices that delivers market-integrated livestock innovations and research in sustainable food production.
  • Innovent Technology Ltd., the UK’s leading designer of agriculture software solutions, including herd performance monitoring and slaughter analysis.
  • Harbro Ltd., a leading animal feed manufacturer who provide on-farm nutritional services and technical support.
  • School of Agriculture, Food & Rural Development at Newcastle University, the UK’s leading centre for research into pig science.
  • School of Computing Science at Newcastle University, experts in computer vision and pattern recognition.

Web page
https://openlab.ncl.ac.uk/publicweb/pigwelfare/

Duration: 1st October 2014 – 31st March 2018

Funding: Innovate UK and BBSRC (£1,212,780)

Researchers: Thomas Ploetz, Ilias Kyriazakis (School of AFRD), Stephen Matthews, Amy Miller (School of AFRD)

Collaborators: Ann-Marie Okocha (Zoetis), David Barclay (Innovent Technology Ltd), Kevin Stickney (Harbro Ltd.), Sophie Throup (RAFT Solutions Ltd.)