INTELLIGENT lighting is promising to cut fights between pigs and improve animal welfare on the UK’s farms.
Tunable LED lighting connected to microphones which can detect the distinctive noise of pig aggression is being installed at farms run by Britain’s biggest pig producer, the Tulip Group.
Edinburgh-based Greengage, a pioneer in smart lighting for livestock farming, is working with Tulip’s British Quality Pigs division on on the commercial trial which will see the lighting and sensors installed at a number of locations.
The company says that in the pig sector, data surrounding pig performance using intelligent lighting is limited.
The trial of its Grunty acoustic sensors and LED lighting will take place in a finishing shed, where animals of over 30 kg are fed up to market weight.
The sensors will be coupled with the lighting system to automatically adjust the lights once an ‘aggression event’ occurs.
The most common form of aggression between pigs takes the form of tail biting.
Greengage is working on developing algorithms that will differentiate between ‘happy’ or normal sounds within a shed and aggression.
This data will be analysed and then fed back to the grower via a smartphone app, real time.
It’s also hoped that the algorithm will be able to predict when aggression will occur.
Overall performance of the pigs under Greengage lighting can also be assessed, comparing feed conversion, mortality and days to finish.
Light intensity and colour spectrums are being studied to manage tail biting within the sheds; they can be changed to calm the animals when a ‘spike’ is reported via a cloud-based app.
Matt Kealey, Greengage sales and marketing director, told Pigworld magazine that early indications are showing that a change in light spectrum or intensity does have a calming effect on the pigs.
Mr Kealey explained: ‘Tail biting can lead to up to appreciable mortality in a finishing shed.
‘This is an industry-wide issue with a huge financial and animal welfare impact at a time when there is increasing pressure from audit bodies and consumers to cease tail docking.
‘A number of factors contribute to the issue including genetics, feed and environment, yet lighting does not appear to have been looked at on a commercial scale.’