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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


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Title: Development of a livestock feeding behavior monitoring system

item Brown Brandl, Tami
item Eigenberg, Roger

Submitted to: Transactions of the ASABE
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/15/2011
Publication Date: 9/9/2011
Citation: Brown Brandl, T.M., Eigenberg, R.A. 2011. Development of a livestock feeding behavior monitoring system. Transactions of the ASABE. 54(5):1913-1920.

Interpretive Summary: Feeding behavior in livestock species contains valuable information and can be used for various needs including identification of sick animals, selections of breeding animals based on differences in growth and feeding behavior, or general management of the animals. In the past, feeding behavior has been recorded on individually penned or small groups of animals. There are a few commercial systems available to monitor feed intake and feeding behavior; however, these systems are very expensive and limit access to feeding stations, thus changing feeding behavior. A system was developed to monitor feeding behavior and has been applied in two unique situations: feedlot cattle and grow-finish swine operations. The system relies on an electronic ear tag applied to each animal, coupled with electronic monitoring equipment at the feeders, and a data collection computer. The design results in minimal change to the design of the feeders themselves, thus being relatively easy to implement in an industry setting and not influencing normal animal behavior. Both systems have been evaluated using video cameras and have proven to be rugged and reliable.

Technical Abstract: Feeding behavior contains valuable information that can be used for various needs including: managing livestock, identifying animals that are sick, and determining genetic differences within a herd. Feeding behavior initially was recorded only in individual or small group pens. Currently there are commercial systems available to determine feeding behavior and feed intake; however, these systems limit access to the feeding stations thus changing feeding behavior. A system was developed using radio- frequency identification (RFID) technology and a series of multiplexers to determine individual animal feeding behavior in an industry type feeding system. This system has been applied to both feedlot cattle and grow-finish swine. Validation of the cattle system determined that it was in agreement with independent video monitoring equipment 98.3% of the time and the swine system was in agreement 98.7% of the time. Both systems have been proven to be rugged and reliable in livestock industry settings.

Last Modified: 06/26/2017
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