In modern swine production, producers need to know the specifics of how their pigs are growing, but manually weighing pigs is labor intensive, stressful for the pigs and workers, and costly.
Having access to real-time, accurate pig weights can help farm managers monitor pig performance and provide data to support management decisions such as ration changes and expected slaughter dates as well as providing benchmarks for pig health parameters.
Novel 3D camera technology, such as the iDOL 65 pig weighing camera from dol-sensors a/s, take multiple images each day and, paired with radio-frequency identification (RFID), generate accurate pig weights for the pen.
A recent study by researchers at Aarhus University in Denmark and Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands found that the iDOL 65 camera can estimate bodyweights of finisher pigs with moderate to high precision and accuracy depending on the range of pig bodyweights in a pen and the equipment set-up (Franchi et al., 2022). These researchers placed the 3D cameras above feeding stations at a research farm and a commercial operation and compared weights generated from the camera system to manually collected weights.
By having accurate, daily pig weights, nutritionists can formulate diets to exact requirements, which helps lower production costs while increasing productivity. Further, by evaluating pig weights after a diet change, farm managers can determine if the feed changes have resulted in higher productivity. Monitoring pig weights can also show if pigs are not performing up to expectations and additional examination may determine a health challenge that can then be corrected early.
In swine production, pig bodyweights are crucial indicators of growth performance, health status, and market readiness. However, collecting weights manually is labor intensive, stressful, and expensive. Advances in 3D camera technology now allows for the continuous monitoring of pig bodyweights in conventional production systems with minimal labor. These camera systems have been validated to show moderate to high precision and accuracy.