Accelerometer technology to perform precision feeding of pregnant sows and follow their health status

8e European Conference on Precision Livestock Farming (ECPLF), le 12-14 septembre 2017, Nantes, in : Precision Livestock Farming 17, 2017, p. 666-673, par Michel Marcon et al.

Two trials were conducted at experimental stations of IFIP, located in Romillé (France, Trial 1), and INRA, located in Saint Gilles (France, Trial 2), on pregnant sows equipped with individual ear tag accelerometers to record their activity level: duration of lying, standing and moving sequences. The first trial involved 72 sows penned on a slatted floor in a dynamic group with connected drinkers and automatic feeders, whereas the second trial was carried out on 4 small groups of 6 sows penned on a concrete floor with straw and fed in individual stalls. Firstly, an algorithm was built from video recordings of 24 sows on the slatted floor (2 x 2 h sequences per sow, 96 h). Secondly, the accuracy of the algorithm was assessed by recording and sequencing 96 h and 109 h, respectively, on the slatted floor and concrete floor with straw. The respective sensitivities of the lying, standing and moving behaviours on the slatted floor were 94.4%, 66.9% and 68.4%. With straw, lower sensitivity values were found: 93.65% for lying, 68.35% for standing and 38.83% for moving, linked to more investigative behaviours using the head. The final step was to use these data to improve the feeding practices of pregnant sows, taking their activity level into account. The strong inter- and intra-individual variability shown in the physical activity is a limiting factor for detection of health problems, such as lameness, through the accelerometers. Thus we need additional information, especially the behaviour data generated by identified drinkers and automatic feeders.