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FFL-JA-Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri

New traits in pig and cattle based on 3D imaging technology

Alternative title: Nye avlsegenskaper for svin og storfe fra 3D bildeteknologi

Awarded: NOK 6.8 mill.

In this project, the Norwegian breeding organizations, Norsvin, Geno and Tyr will together with NTNU, MakingView AS and The University of Auckland (NZ) develop new traits for animal breeding, based on image technology. By doing this, we would improve the robustness, production and longevity of breeding animals and thus, improve the economics for swine and cattle farmers. During the last period, we have been focusing on further development of camera technology, since we observed that some of the previous chosen technologies had some immanent limitations. For surveillance of pigs in the pen, we have tested two new camera types, and we have now found a type with a large enough field of view to be be mounted vertically in the ceiling above the middle of the pen. We have also worked intensively with postprocessing tracking algorithms, and the quality of pig tracking has improved a lot during the last year. For data collection of cattle, we are about to install new cameras in more herds to improve the data collection and thereby models for prediction of beef cattle weights, based on images. We have also observed that the previously developed handheld unit for data collection of udder conformation traits on dairy cows does not give satisfactory precision for all traits. Hence, we will need to do a new prototype development in 2022. The aim will then be to combine different types of sensors to capture the whole animal's exterior, not only the udder. We have also been working on development of inner organs traits in pigs, based on CT-scans. We are now able to measure heart- and lung size in alive pigs and to evaluate those against traditional production traits as well as health recordings. This have given us new insights, and some of the results will be published internationally.

In this project, we want to improve the production, functionality and longevity of livestock animals, by developing objective registrations of new traits from images and videos. Increased precision and extent of data recordings improves the genetic gain of pigs and cattle and will enable an increment of sustainable food production based on Norwegian resources - throughout the country As new tools within genomics has led to an increase in the precision of breeding, there is in parallel a high need for more precise registrations of the traits we want to improve on our livestock animals. Historically, scoring of an animals locomotion and conformation have been scored subjectively by trained technicians in both pigs and cattle. This is labour intensive and leads to high costs as well as insufficient quality of data. Weighing animals in the field is expensive and associated with a lot of hard manual work. Increased precision and more data, due to more simple registrations, will highly improve the accuracy of selection of the best animals in the breeding program. In this project, we are going to develop 3D camera prototypes for measuring animals and utilize computer vision to enable cost-effective precise measurements of livestock animals. The images/videos will be directly linked to the ID of the animal, using radio frequency identification (RFID). Further, we will develop effective automatic algorithms to get out registrations on single animals from videos containing many animals in a pen and model the surfaces, describing the shape of the animals. This will found the basis for development of new traits that can be implemented in the breeding programme for pigs, dairy cattle and beef cattle.

Funding scheme:

FFL-JA-Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri