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Quantification of Pre-parturition Restlessness in Crated Sows Using Ultrasonic Measurement

  • Wang, J.S. (Department of Electrical Engineering, National Cheng-Kung University) ;
  • Huang, Y.S. (Department of Electrical Engineering, National Cheng-Kung University) ;
  • Wu, M.C. (Taiwan Livestock Research Institute) ;
  • Lai, Y.Y. (Taiwan Livestock Research Institute) ;
  • Chang, H.L. (National Pingtung University of Science and Technology) ;
  • Young, M.S. (Department of Electrical Engineering, National Cheng-Kung University)
  • Received : 2004.05.27
  • Accepted : 2004.11.15
  • Published : 2005.06.01

Abstract

This study presents a non-video, non-invasive, automatic, on-site monitoring system the system employs ultrasonic transducers to detect behavior in sows before, during and after parturition. An ultrasonic transmitting/receiving (T/R) circuit of 40 kHz was mounted above a conventional parturition bed. The T/R units use ultrasonic time-of-flight (TOF) ranging technology to measure the height of the confined sows at eight predetermined locations. From this data, three momentary postures of the sow are determined, characterized as standing-posture (SP), lateral-lying-posture (LLP) and sitting posture (STP). By examining the frequencies of position switch Stand-Up-Sequence (SUS) between standing-posture (SP), lateral-lying-posture (LLP) and sitting-posture (STP) rate can be determined for the duration of the sow' confinement. Three experimental pureblooded Landrace sows undergoing normal gestation were monitored for the duration of confinement. In agreement with common observation, the sows exhibited increased restlessness as parturition approached. Analysis of the data collected in our study showed a distinct peak in Stand-Up-Sequence (SUS, i.e. the transition from lying laterally to standing up ) and sitting-posture (STP) rate approximately 12 h prior to parturition, the observed peak being 5 to 10 times higher than observed on any other measurement day. It is concluded that the presented methodology is a robust, low-cost, lowlabor method for the continuous remote monitoring of sows and similar large animals for parturition and other behavior. It is suggested that the system could be applied to automatic prediction of sow parturition, with automatic notification of remote management personnel so human attendance at birth could reduce rates of sow and piglet mortality. The results of this study provide a good basis for enhancing automation and reducing costs in large-scale sow husbandry and have applications in the testing of various large mammals for the effects of medications, diets, genetic modifications and environmental factors.

Keywords

Sows;Parturition;Ultrasonic Transducers;Animal Husbandry

Acknowledgement

Supported by : National Cheng-Kung University

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