Health and Wellness Monitoring from the Inside Out
To achieve efficient production and superior meat quality, herd health and optimal animal welfare is vital. Whether operating a free-range farm or confinement operation, the major issue addressing both is finding experienced caretakers to assist with the animals.
In today’s modern operations, caretakers represent a critical point of contact regarding the management and monitoring of herd health and animal condition. Caretakers are tasked with walking the aisles of a production barn twice a day and observing a multitude of critical issues simultaneously including examining pigs for or signs of lameness, wounds, illness, or failure to thrive. This not only requires that these farm workers put their eyes on as many animals as possible but also that such workers can identify distressed animals as early as possible.
A typical production facility, can you identify the sick pig?
To make matters more difficult, most operations are facing labor shortages due to high turnover and low unemployment making it difficult to recruit and retain the highly trained individuals that are critical for maintaining optimal animal welfare and herd health.
How can swine production be improved to ensure herd health, humane animal welfare standards, and healthy meat for consumers. There has to be a logical answer.
Our team spent years working on a solution to strengthen barn management, enhance animal health and wellness monitoring in order to reduce animal lameness, illness and mortality for greater production efficiency.
The answer lies in technology.
By combining the Internet of Things (IoT), robust connectivity, and big data, we developed PorkLogic to address the industry’s employment challenge and allow animal health monitoring at an unprecedented level.
Many of us monitor our own health through smart watches or fitness bands. We don’t see why hogs are any different. BaconBit™ is the patented smart ear tag sensor that monitors hog health on an individual animal level as well as overall herd health.
Transferable BaconBit™ with Temperature sensor
Battery powered Bluetooth aggregator
How it works?
The smart tag collects data captured by sensors, or aggregators, throughout the barn that is pushed to a data storage cloud in real-time. By storing all the data in one location, the data is integrated and analyzed by advanced PorkLogic algorithms that make sense of the numbers and display accessible, actionable, data-based insights to improve your farm operation and help you make better informed decisions.
How does PorkLogic inform decisions? By using multiple key data points and then running algorithms, or scenarios, based on the data generated. These data points focus on physiological, environmental and operational influences. For this paper, I’d like to focus on a couple of these sensors that work in concert to determine physiological effects that may point to lameness or morbidity.
Measuring the animal’s body temperature in real-time is critical for detecting illness or disease as early as possible. Fever is the most common form of disease-related change in behavior. A temperature sensor is embedded in each BaconBit™ allowing skin temperature measurements to be taken every 15 minutes. Skin temperature is only an estimate of core body temperature and can be impacted by ambient temperature and environmental influences, which is why the animal’s temperature is taken often. The repeated, non-invasive temperature measurements allow benchmarks to be established for both individual pigs as well as herd-wise so that deviations from such baselines can form the basis for an early alert system.
Calibrated Temperature of the Pig along with Pen Max/Min/Average temperature – gives a good visual comparison
Imagine the temperature data collected from a herd on a single day? Not possible to maintain or organize without technology. PorkLogic handles the IOT strategy and algorithms, to deliver results to the producer on demand and in real-time providing knowledge that no caretaker could detect on a visual walkthrough.
During our conversations with pork industry professionals, a chief complaint with current operation management software are the false positives generated in the form of alerts regarding one aspect of their management practices or another.. PorkLogic responded by deploying several small sensors around each pen to measure a pig’s activity. PorkLogic defines activity as movement throughout the pen and how many times, and for how long, the pig travels to the feeder or waterer. These data points can determine eating and drinking patterns to discern between behaviors like if the pig is walking by or sleeping near the feeder or waterer, or if in fact the pig is truly eating and/or drinking.
Like the temperature readings from BaconBit™, real-time activity data communicates actionable insights back to the farm operation to drive decisions.
Each dot represents presence of the Pig near the Water Station. Our Algorithm converts this raw data to water frequency
For example, if a pig’s activity is substantially reduced, the pig may be struggling and should be visually inspected by the caretaker. Utilizing the temperature and activity data together, PorkLogic sends notification for a caretaker to investigate the pig. PorkLogic’s inherent track and trace system will indicate the barn and pen where the pig is located.
Each dot represents presence of the Pig near the Feed Station. Our Algorithm converts this raw data to feed frequency
Additionally, to make it easier to identify which pig, PorkLogic added a small LED light in the BaconBit™ tag so the caretaker doesn’t have to look for a tag number. The BaconBit™ starts flashing for easy pig identification. Together, these features allow individual care to be delivered to pigs.
LED on BaconBit™ which can be remotely lit up
Each dot represents Wellness score of the Pig – a holistic score taking into Physiological & Environmental parameters
Utilizing PorkLogic to constantly monitor herd activity can identify data abnormalities and be shared with the farm manager in a daily report. By focusing attention on struggling pigs, the operation can identify emerging problems faster, and reduce lameness and morbidity rates. The PorkLogic monitoring system identifies those pigs for you in ways that are not possible through visual inspection alone.
PorkLogic is a real time, herd health and wellness system, providing 24/7 monitoring of:
• The activity level of each pig.
• The sedentary habits of each pig.
• Which pigs are more active than others (stack ranking).
• Which pigs visit the waterer nipple more than others.
• Which pigs visit the feeder more than others.
This affordable, proven technology will revolutionize the health and wellness of farm animals to deliver high productivity for farm operators and higher quality meat to consumers.