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Rugeley firm's 'game-changing' pig kit to go on show

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: May 06, 2014

By Kerry Ashdown

POTENTIAL . . . Tim Miller, environment specialist with ARM Buildings on a farm which has been evaluating the growth sensor

POTENTIAL . . . Tim Miller, environment specialist with ARM Buildings on a farm which has been evaluating the growth sensor

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A PIG equipment firm near Rugeley has helped develop a "spy in the sty" to enable farmers to monitor their animals' growth on a daily basis.

The In-pen Voluntary Access Scale will be launched at this month's British Pig and Poultry Fair at Stoneleigh Park.

The growth sensor, which enables farmers to "see" how their pigs are performing while they are still growing, has been developed by Colton-based ARM Buildings, Farmex of Berkshire and Dicam Technology of Suffolk, with a grant from the Technology Strategy Board.

The sensor is placed in the pig pen and records the animals' weights as they wander in and out of the electronic scales of their own free will.

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The information is sent wirelessly to a computer network, then an online database, and is linked to other monitored factors such as temperature, ventilation, water and feed consumption.

The stream of information will allow for "fine tuning" on a daily basis to maximise pigs' performance during the growing and finishing period, rather than producers using historical data.

It will also provide useful information for vets and nutritional advisers.

Farmex managing director Hugh Crabtree said: "The development has been described as a real game-changer.

"It is on a par with significant genetic and pharmaceutical advances.

"It could give British pig producers their best chance since the 1970s of establishing a world lead in sustainable pig production.

"Farmers taking part in the trial have been quick to see the potential and ways of using the system for commercial advantage.

"We will probably have to issue a second tranche of pre-production prototypes to meet demand.

"I predict that within five years all farmers with significant numbers of finishing pigs will have a growth sensor in at least one sentinel pen per batch."

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