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An Image Acquisition System for Studying Behaviors of Sows and Piglets in Farrowing Barns

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  10th International Livestock Environment Symposium (ILES X)  .(doi:10.13031/iles.18-018)
Authors:   Suzanne M. Leonard, Hongwei Xin, Tami Brown-Brandl, Brett C. Ramirez
Keywords:   animal welfare, computer vision, Kinect®, precision livestock farming, swine.

Abstract. Behavior studies in commercial swine farrowing room environments often need to monitor each set of sow and piglets individually and simultaneously. Autonomous computer imaging systems can overcome this challenge. The system presented here utilizes a time of flight depth sensor and a digital camera to capture depth and digital images of each sow and litter, housed in individual farrowing stalls. Depth sensors were centered above the stalls on a triangular truss spanning the length of the farrowing room and mounted in waterproof boxes with attached lids, enabling them to easily be waterproofed when cleaning the farrowing room. Each depth sensor was controlled by a mini-PC housed in a waterproof box located on the wall behind the sow for protection of the electronics. Each box also contained a small display monitor for operator ease of access. Images were acquired continuously at 0.2 fps. Data files were transmitted via Ethernet cable to a switch, then to a disk station for storage. This system was implemented in three farrowing rooms, with each room housing 20 sows. Recorded image data were subsequently analyzed to quantify behaviors of the sows and piglets (future work) as affected by dimensions and layout of the farrowing stalls.

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