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Determination of static space occupied by individual weaner and growing pigs using an image-based monitoring system

  • M. Fels (a1), K. Konen (a1), E. Hessel (a2) and N. Kemper (a1)

In the present study, precise, animal-based biometric data on the space needed for the body dimensions of individual pigs (static space) were collected. Per batch, two groups of eight piglets each were formed after weaning (35 days old). Using three-dimensional cameras that recorded a piglets’ pen from above and newly developed software, the static space of individuals was determined over 6 weeks. The area covered by an individual increased almost linearly with increasing body weight (R2 = 0.97). At the end of rearing (25 kg body weight), an individual covered 1704 cm2 in standing position, 1687 cm2 in sitting posture and 1798 cm2 in a recumbent position. According to the allometric equation: Space = k × body weight0.667, k values for the static space in standing position (k = 0.021), in recumbent position in general (k = 0.022) and in lateral recumbent posture (k = 0.027) were calculated. Compared with spatial requirements in different countries, the results of static space obtained in the present study revealed that pigs weighing 25 kg are provided with 0.09–0.18 m2 free space per pig which is not covered by the pig's body. This free space can be used as dynamic space needed for body movements or social interactions. The present study was not intended to enhance space recommendations in pig farming, but to demonstrate the amount of free space in a pigs’ pen. It was shown that innovative technologies based on image analysis offer completely new possibilities to assess spatial requirements for pigs.

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Author for correspondence: M. Fels, E-mail:
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The Journal of Agricultural Science
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