The swine industry continues to experience substantial economic losses due to respiratory disease outbreaks in modern pig production worldwide impacting productivity, antibiotic usage, and animal welfare.1 SoundTalks®, an available Precision Livestock Farming (PLF) technology for swine producers, is a cloud-based sensor technology that monitors the sound emitted from pigs on a 24/7 basis. Based on artificial intelligence, this technology processes the sound data collected at the farm and transforms it into a metric (0 – 100) that represents the animals’ respiratory health status (ReHS). When the ReHS value falls below a certain threshold, the system emits early warnings (yellow/red LED alerts) allowing producers to intervene prior to the time when clinical signs of respiratory disease are evident to care givers2. Despite the early warning evidence, further research is needed to fully understand the impact of ReHS on production performance in the swine growing populations (i.e. mortality, average daily gain (ADG), and feed conversion (FC)). Therefore, this study aimed to describe the respiratory health status (ReHS) in the nurseries and finishers of a commercial farm monitored by SoundTalks and to investigate the potential association with production performance.
Materials and Methods
The study was performed in the growing population of a large farrow to finish sow farm in Spain (4 nursery barns, 16 finishing barns) continuously monitored by SoundTalks for a period of 11 months. Information regarding production performance at a batch level (i.e. weeks after placement, mortality %, finisher ADG, and finisher FC) was consolidated to be analyzed. Linear regression models were used to study the association between production variables and respiratory health markers (i.e. average ReHS value, SoundTalks green, yellow and red monitor color and combinations). Other environmental (i.e. daily room temperatures as well as calendar-month) were also considered for the descriptive models.
A total of 25 nursery and 25 finishers batches were analyzed from Nov 2020 to Sept 2021 for the study. Overall, results from this study demonstrated that the respiratory health (i.e. Average ReHS value of the batch) evaluated during the nursery period was significantly associated with batch nursery mortality % (R2=0,3532, p value=0,0075) (Fig1A). With regards to the finishing groups, significant positive association was found between pig growth (i.e. ADG) and the respiratory health measured as a percentage of days without yellow/red alarms (i.e. % green) (R2=0,2585, p value=0,0065) (Fig1B). On the other hand, no significant association was detected between respiratory health and FC or % mortality in the finisher groups. Furthermore, there was an evident room effect as the percentage of days with green, yellow or red ReHS significantly differed among nursery and finisher airspaces. Other important variables were calendar months, since the % of yellow and red alarms significantly increased during the summer months (July-Sept); as well as months after placement, since there was a significantly lower ReHS during the first and third month after placement compared to the second month of the finisher period (p-value<0,001 Tukey method comparison).
Fig 1A. Nursery negative correlations between mortality and average Respiratory Health Status per batch (R2=0,3532, p value=0,0075)
Fig 1B. Finishing batch correlation between average daily gain (gr) and days without respiratory alarms (%) measured by SoundTalks (R2=0,2585, p value=0,0065)
Conclusions and Discussion
This is the first study, to the author’s knowledge, that shows the direct impact that the respiratory health status (ReHS) measured by SoundTalks has on key production performance parameters during the growth and finishing phase of the pig. Results from this study demonstrated that continuous sound monitoring of pigs used to implement an early intervention against respiratory challenges will directly improve the production parameters of the growing and finishing populations. Further studies are needed to understand the implications and comparison of different interventions following SoundTalks alarms when different pathogens are involved.
- Lopes Antunes AC, Jensen VF, Jensen D (2019) Unweaving tangled mortality and antibiotic consumption data to detect disease outbreaks – Peaks, growths, and foresight in swine production. PLoS ONE 14(10): e0223250
- Polson, D. et al., 2018. Precision livestock farming (PLF) for pig health and production: Sound as a diagnostic sample. AASV, 2018.