Infrared camera to identify pig feeding patterns

07-08-2019 | | |
Photo: Prof. Rony Antonio Ferreira
Photo: Prof. Rony Antonio Ferreira

Researchers in Brazil are working on methods involving thermography using infrared technology to identify pig feeding behaviour.

That was revealed in a presentation at the recently held trade show AveSui/EuroTier South America, July 23-25. Rony Antonio Ferreira, associate professor at the Federal University of Lavras, MG, Brazil, explained about a project, PPGZoo, the university has been working on for the last 3 years. Prof Ferreira is a specialist in bio-climatology, and spent a great deal of his work in pigs, poultry and also cattle.

Measuring temperature using infrared camera

Basically it comes down to going through animal houses – not only pigs, but also poultry, to measure the animals’ temperatures using an infrared camera using a commercially available device. A common outcome to use this is would be to distinguish whether animals suffer from fever.

“That is one application,” Prof Ferreira said in an interview with Pig Progress. “The other application is to figure out whether it is time for a feeding session. Essentially, the animals’ body temperature is a fragment lower when they need to feed, than when they have just fed. So you can manage the feeding from the measurements with the infrared camera.”

Thermographic image vs real image. - Photo: Prof Rony Antonio Ferreira

Thermographic image vs real image. – Photo: Prof Rony Antonio Ferreira

Calibrating the sensor requires much fine-tuning, Prof Ferreira admitted, and the university is working on just that. The team, involving 2 professors and several graduate students, hopes to have a first paper about the technology – applied to poultry – published in a scientific journal in the 2nd part of 2019. A publication about pigs is to follow at a later stage.

Read more about pig production in Brazil

Identification of animal feeding patterns

The technology forms part of a larger project to identify animal feeding behaviour – and to figure out what the optimal benchmarks per breed are. The main interest, Prof Ferreira indicated, is to enhance animal welfare with the novelty. The university hopes to make this available for farmers free of charge.

Editor of Pig Progress / Topic: Pigs around the world