Research in Saskatchewan Explores Management of Automated Weighing and Sorting Systems

CANADA - Farm-Scape: Episode 2134. Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork.
calendar icon 8 May 2006
clock icon 3 minute read

Farm-Scape, Episode 2134

In an effort to optimize the benefits of automated systems for weighing and sorting pigs, scientists at the Prairie Swine Centre have kicked off a series of studies designed to examine the management of these systems.

Various aspects of autosort system technology have been around for about a decade but, for about the past five years, scales have been set up permanently in pens to sort pigs automatically as they pass through to access food or water.

Research Scientist in Animal Behavior Dr. Harold Gonyou says we aren't yet using all of the potential advantages but we have seen farmers using it for different reasons, the first being to reduce the effort required to sort pigs headed for market.

"We are paid quite well actually to sort pigs out so that they're within a narrow range of weight when they go to market and that, on a typical farm, means that we would have to physically weigh these pigs at least every two weeks and it's labor intensive so, using an automatic system such as this, when the pigs go through they're weighed and they can be sorted off into a holding pen to go to market.

Also this monitors their weight as they grow so we, on a daily basis, we know approximately what proportion of the pigs are within certain weight ranges but not everyone is having a great success with them.

Some find them very easy to use.

Others find them very difficult to use.

There are a number of different factors involved in this.

Some of it may be design features of the scale itself but we think that there's a lot of management issues as well."

Dr. Gonyou says, right now, scientists are examining how pigs interact with these systems to make them easier to handle and to reduce stress during marketing and to come up with ways to design the food court to reduce congestion to ensure good access to feeders so the pigs will continue to perform well.

He expects initial results from the first of these studies to be available in December.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

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