Detecting coughing pigs
Some people say they hear the grass growing – at SmartPigHealth (FIE 22) we speak with and listen to pigs.
What does this have to do with digitisation you might ask? Let us explain: there is an increasing demand for the reduced use of antibiotics, for improved animal welfare and for transparency on the conditions in which our food is being produced. We provide a solution by observing pigs.
How does it work? We deploy sensors in pig barns which measure factors that can negatively affect pig health. Think of temperature, humidity, insufficient feed and water, excessive noise, ammonia (NH3), carbon dioxide (CO2), and hydrogen sulfide (H2S). We analyse the data output and feed this into our prediction model, that farmers can access through their phones. This enables them to take immediate action, thereby improving pig health and reducing the needs for post hoc antibiotics. Moreover, by digitising this process, information on how pigs are kept and pork is produced will be available, thus making the production more transparent.
In this starting phase, our focus it to get the sensors to work and make them interact with each other. The challenge Is to install cameras and sensors which are optimised to detect coughing, movement, feeding behaviour, and capable of measuring the contents of the trough. Some barns are more dusty or humid than others, and therefore require a different set-up. Moreover, connecting all the technical appliances and sensors from different brands, as well as installing plugs and sockets in barns is quite an obstacle. And of course, some pigs are so curious, they accidentally damage our precious sensors.
Luckily, we do not stand alone in developing this digital solution. We enjoy the support of several Competence Centres which provide long-term expertise in assessing pig health, develop checklists and criteria which are flexible to differing farm conditions. That’s the good thing about being part of SmartAgriHubs, we can rely on the network.