Automatic individual weighing of animals (as frequently as they visit the water trough)

Tue 16th Jun, 2020 Mimi Saville Content Type: Good Practice

This Good Practice is in response to the on-farm challenge of weighing animals. Weighting animal is laborious and time consuming, especially when the number of animals on a farm is high. 

To create an efficient and effective weighing method, a scale is placed between two plots (one with the feed and other with the water trough) capturing individual information through a RFID transponder (located in one ear of each animal). The energy to power this scale comes from an integrated solar panel, and the signals are transmitted to the farm management via antenna, without requiring Internet.

A benefit of using this system to weigh animals on the farm is that farmers are provided with daily real time monitoring of the weight of the animals, which is important to check the animals’ productivity and well-being. Knowing the weight of the animal helps to define the best moment for selling the animals (not too early and not too late) and to take other management decisions. Weight information is valuable for breeding as well.

This weight management would work best for Beef finisher farms with grazing or feedlot systems, when having high number of animals to monitor. 

 

 

This method has a positive impact across all four themes in the BovINE project:

  1. Socioeconomic Resilience - An adjusted time on slaughter maybe allows a better selling price. Cost of implementation of the innovation needs to be assessed.
  2. Animal Health & Welfare - The daily information about individual growth rate (and other information such as frequency of drinking) with warning alerts permits the monitoring of animal well-being
  3. Production Efficiency & Meat Quality - Reduces the labour time per animal and gives daily data on growth rate, which permits a better selection of the slaughter time. This prevents unnecessary waste of money on feed and care (slaughter too late) or miss out on the profit that additional weight gain could have brought (slaughter too early). The"right" daily gain and the optimun slaughter time is related to carcass yield and quality and also to meat quality. 
  4. Environmental Sustainability - Allows a more efficient production, so more sustainable

 

Literary Source: https://blog.bosch-si.com/agriculture/connected-agriculture-beefed-up-networking-in-brazil/

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Mimi Saville
5 Posts
Wed 17th Jun, 2020

This is a comment on this post. I would like to pose a question to the BovINE project regarding weighing cattle in the method explained above. 

What would you recommend if cattle do not go into the scale area by themselves? Are there ways to persuade them to go through the scale area? 

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Virginia Resconi
16 Posts
Sat 20th Jun, 2020

Hi Mimi, Thank you for your interest in the post. Maybe a farmer using the technology, a company selling this type of products or the experts in Animal Welfare from BovINE can answer better your question. But I think that is not a big issue since they are looking forward to drink and they might get used quickly to pass through the scale.

By working in the systematic review I found an additional potential feature of this technology, that is the automatic recording of the calving date in beef cows under extensive pastoral systems. This could reduce cost and labour required to manually recording of parturition dates, thereby increasing the recording of days to calving EBV and consequently increasing reproductive efficiency in the herds.  (Ref: Menzies et al. 2018. Animal Production Science, 2018, 58, 1743–1750).

This technology is also known as WoW (Walk over Weighing) and is widely used in northern Australia (See https://futurebeef.com.au/projects/walk-over-weighing-western-queensland/). The information posted is from Brazil. I would like to know if someone is using this technology in Europe or at least is interested.

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