Adapting the feed, the animal and the feeding techniques to improve the efficiency and sustainability of monogastric livestock production systems
Adapting the feed, the animal and the feeding techniques to improve the efficiency and sustainability of monogastric livestock production systems

WP4 Management systems for precision feeding to increase resilience to fluctuating environments and improve feed efficiency

WP leader: Jesús Pomar (Universitat de Lleida)
Involved partners: UdL, INRA, WUR, EXAFAN , Gran Suino, IFIP, ITAVI

Objectives

Develop new management systems (i.e., hardware and controlling software) for precision feeding to optimise the realtime feed supply with the nutritional requirements of the animal taking into account environmental conditions. Emphasis will be on improving production sustainability by increasing feed efficiency, reducing the environmental impact of livestock farms and improving resilience to fluctuating environments.

Approach

To build new management systems for precision feeding, the three main components of the system need to be developed and integrated subsequently. The development of these components corresponds to the three initial tasks:

  • development of decision support tools (DSS) for the real-time determination of nutritional requirements;
  • development of a controlling module for real-time measurements of system inputs to support feeder operating control tasks;
  • development of precision feeder devices.

Different farm feeder systems are available at the experimental facilities of the partners. These feeders, obtained from different equipment manufacturers, differ in technology and in the degree to which they can be controlled in real-time. This will be the starting point to develop or modify precision feeding devices to manage the amount and composition of feed to be distributed according to the nutrient requirements of the animal for different production types (Task 4.1). For pigs, the technology developed at the University of Lleida is available in systems present at UdL and INRA, while IFIP has a system co-developed with a French company. All available devices will be adapted, improved or redesigned to achieve, in a collaborative way, a precision feeding system operating at the individual pig level. For broilers and laying hens, feeders and weighing technologies developed by EXAFAN and feeder system devices available at IFIP and INRA will be adapted in a collaborative way to achieve precision feeding at the group level (Tasks 4.2 and 4.3).

The aim of Task 4.4 is to integrate the three components obtained in the previous tasks to build systems that enable accurate and automatic feeding according to the requirements of individual or groups of animals including a preliminary validation and refinement of prototypes. The last stage (Task 4.5) involves prototype demonstrations. Once prototypes pass validation in experimental conditions, they will be demonstrated at the farm level to illustrate their potential and, if needed, refine their characteristics under field conditions.

Tasks

  • Task 4.1: Development of decision support tools for the real-time determination of animal nutritional requirements (composition and amount) and improvement of performance (M6 – M28)
  • Task 4.2: Development a controlling module (software and hardware) to support feeder control tasks and real-time measurements (M12 – M28)
  • Task 4.3: Development of precision feeder devices (M6 – M28)
  • Task 4.4: Build and validate precision feeding system prototypes (M28 – M56)
  • Task 4.5: Demonstration activities (M46 – M60)