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ARS Home » Plains Area » Clay Center, Nebraska » U.S. Meat Animal Research Center » Genetics and Animal Breeding » Research » Research Project #439414

Research Project: Assessing the Utility of Geophones to Determine Animal Activity in Swine Farrowing Pens for Precision Management Monitoring - University of Nebraska

Location: Genetics and Animal Breeding

Project Number: 3040-31000-106-003-N
Project Type: Non-Funded Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Nov 1, 2020
End Date: Nov 1, 2023

Determine if vibrations in flooring material recorded by geophones using seismological technology can be used to electronically monitor activity of dams and piglets in farrowing pens. Geophones will be validated using activity monitoring (both video and accelerometry) of dams and piglets. Successful continuous activity monitoring by geophones can than be utilized to monitor and notify farrowing house personal of potential issues within the farrowing pens during parturition and subsequent lactation to improve sow and piglet well-being and reduce preweaning piglet mortality. These validated techniques will be a useful mechanism to limit farrow house loss using precision management.

This study will determine if data collected by geophones can be used to determine animal activity occurring in farrowing pens throughout farrowing and lactation. Geophones will be produced and provided by our Cooperators at Carnegie Mellon University and Stanford University that will measure vibration data within farrowing pens. To create a predictive model for vibration data, multiple types of data will be collected and subsequently analyzed by machine learning capabilities provided by our Cooperators at Carnegie Mellon, Stanford University and University of Michigan. Activities expected to be detected within farrowing pen by geophones would include parturition, nursing and potentially aberrant behaviors resulting in piglet crushing. At the USDA-ARS-USMARC Swine farm using USDA-ARS-USMARC commercial line pigs, each pen will have 5 geophone data collection devices attached to the underside of the metal flooring strategically located to capture the movement of the dam and piglets for each pen. In addition to vibration sensors, a video recording device, provided by our Cooperator at University of Nebraska-Lincoln will be mounted above each pen that can record the entire pen area. In addition to the sensors installed for vibration and video data collection, accelerometers, provided by our Cooperator at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, will be placed on dams to monitor specific activity of dams throughout farrowing and lactation. Once farrowing has been completed and piglets have been processed, an appropriately-sized harness containing an accelerometer, provided by ARS scientists, will be fitted to divergent-sized piglets. These accelerometers with be used to monitor specific activity from various sized piglets throughout the lactation period. Vibration data obtained by geophones will be correlated with specific video and accelerometry data to validate the utility of geophones to provide a precision management technique for improving farrowing house well-being and limiting piglet mortality.