The ClicRweight wireless, remote weighing system may be in the early stages of development, but the new product panel thought it offered an intriguing approach to fine-tuning feeding programs that could prove useful under the right circumstances.
Dawn Keleske, ClicRweight chief financial officer, told the panel the new, patented system provides the weight of a hog without human intervention, 24 hours per day, using a 4-ft. x 2-ft. chute to take a picture of the animal and accurately calculate the weight.
“This system is not a scale,” she said. “When a pig comes into the chute to take a drink from a nipple waterer, the system reads the animal’s RFID tag and takes the pig’s picture. A central processing unit (CPU) uses a proprietary algorithm to calculate the pig’s weight.” The unit then wirelessly ties the data about the pig to a main computer processor where it can be downloaded to a personal computer or tablet computer.
“It’s all about gathering good, accurate data,” Keleske said. “You can check drinking patterns or see if pigs are staying on a growth curve, for example.” Producers could generate reports every day if they so choose.
The weighing system is designed for wean-to finish production. The components, such as the camera and CPU, were designed to withstand the tough environment in hog barns. The company is currently in the process of designing a paint sprayer that will be mounted on the chute. The system can then mark hogs that fall within a pre-set range, such as hitting a desired weight, for example.
The ClicRweight installation crew comes to the producer’s site to install the unit and make sure it is correctly calibrated. The panel asked about maintenance and service. Keleske said the company provides customer service from their office in Tampa, FL.
Paul Yeske, DVM, asked if a portable weighing system was available. Keleske said one is in development.
One CPU can accommodate 1,200 head and costs $3,200. A single CPU can run 24 chutes. Each chute costs $2,700 for the chute, camera, paint sprayer and hard drive. The monthly software and maintenance fee is $300.
“It’s early in its development stage, but it’s a neat application of machine vision,” Ted Funk said. “Lots of industries now use automated systems to generate numbers from digital photos. Time will tell when it comes to the question of durability.”
Leon Sheets agreed with Funk. “This shows some vision. I don’t see producers putting RFID tags on 1,000-plus pigs because that would add expense, but this could be used in test pens. I’m a little concerned about dust accumulating on the lens of the camera.”
“If you don’t have a research barn, you could use this product in a sentinel barn. I would like to see a portable version because if it was mobile, you could use it to spot-check barns,” Yeske stated.
Marcia Shannon added, “When they get the marker on the chute it will be more useful. The challenge in not having it mark animals is that it would be hard to go into a barn and have to read individual tags to see which pigs are noted on the computer printout. I do think this could be a helpful tool to make sure diets were being changed at the right time.”
Learn more about the ClicRweight™ Weighing System online at www.clicrweight.com.