Date of this Version
Computers and Electronics in Agriculture 96 (2013) 246–252; http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compag.2013.06.002
Feeding behavior and time spent eating contains valuable information that can be used for managing livestock, identifying sick animals, and determining genetic differences within a herd. Individual animal feeding behavior, in a commercial-sized pen, was recorded using radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology and a series of multiplexers. Data were collected on 960 pigs (mixed barrows, 406 and gilts, 600) over 4 grow-out periods. The animals entered the facility at 24.6 ± 5.4 kg (mean ± standard deviation) at approximately 65 days of age and exited the facility at 101.4 ± 13.8 kg (between 116 and 133 days later). Time spent at the feeder was analyzed for the effects of days on feed, sex, weight gain, and health effects. The amount of time spent at the feeder averaged 68.8 min day‒1 pig‒1 over the grow-out period, and increased from the day the pigs enter the facility (24.0 ± 1.6 min day‒1 pig‒1; mean ± standard error) until plateauing at approximately 40 days later (76.7 ± 2.4 min day‒1 pig‒1; age ~ 105 days). After the plateau, barrows spent 13.6 more minutes per day at the feeder than gilts. Pigs classified as ‘high gaining’ (79.2 ± 5.1 min day‒1 pig‒1) spent more time at the feeder than pigs classified as either ‘normal’ (72.6 ± 2.6 min day-1 pig‒1) or ‘low gaining’ (67.6 ± 5.3 min day‒1 pig‒1). This initial manuscript demonstrates the potential of utilizing feeding behavior or time spent eating as a method of managing animals.