Date of this Version
A thesis presented to the faculty of the Graduate College at the University of Nebraska in partial fulfillment of requirements for the degree of Master of Science
Major: Agricultural and Biological Systems Engineering
Under the supervision of Professor Tami Brown-Brandl
Lincoln, Nebraska, December 2023
Precision animal management refers to the practice of managing animals with aid of systems developed using technology and data analysis that predict or monitor different aspects of animal production agriculture like feeding behavior, social behavior, and environmental conditions. The analysis of feeding behavior of grow-finish swine could give better insight into health and welfare of individual pigs enabling the farmer or animal caretaker to make informed decisions. The objective of the Chapter Two was to determine the minimum meal interval for different ages of grow-finish pigs. The minimum meal interval can be defined as time between two recorded occurrences of pig’s feeder visits that can be counted as one meal. Several publications assume a minimum meal interval without a statistical basis which could impact their interpretation of feeder data. The resultant minimum meal interval time by the application of derivatives on feeder data was found to be 900 sec. The work done provides a statistical basis for selecting a minimum interval time to turn the feeder data that comes as chunks of information into useful attributes of pig’s feeding behavior like number of meals, total mealtime, and average mealtime. Chapter Three had two objectives; the first objective was to determine the differences in feeding behavior of grow-finish pigs housed in pens with three different feeder layouts namely Standard (One five-hole dry feeder per pen), 2FA (two five-hole dry feeders per pen placed apart the length of the pen) and 2FSS (two five-hole dry feeders per pen stacked side-by-side. Data acquisition was done using a monitoring system based on radio frequency identification technology. The feeder data was translated into feeding behavior attributes like number of meals, total and average feed time per animal per day using a minimum meal interval of 900 s. The feeder behavior attributes from the three different feeder layouts are compared and tested for significant difference. 2FA feeder layout is found to have significantly lowest total feeding time (TFT) and average feeding bout duration (AFD). The second objective was to compare the feeding behavior attributes of pigs having different growth rate rankings. For this purpose, all the pigs in the study were classified into three rankings based on their growth rate determined using the weights from the production data (H: Top 10% of the fastest growth rates, L: Lowest 10% of growth rates, N: remaining 80% pigs). It was found that the ‘H’ ranked pigs had higher total daily feeding time and average meal duration as compared to ‘L’ pigs which did not change with any of the feeder layout. A better understanding of the effect of the feeder arrangement and the feeder space allowance enables farmer or animal caretaker to accommodate the nutritional needs of animals. Monitoring feeding behavior on individual basis would help in the early detection of illness in grow-finish pigs ensuring them good welfare.