Development of an Embedded Microcomputer-based Force Plate System for Measuring Sow Weight Distribution and Detection of Lameness
Measuring sow weight distribution is vital for scientists to identify lame animals before clinical signs can be visually observed and help livestock producers decrease lameness incidence in their swine breeding herd. In this study, an embedded microcomputer-based force plate system was developed to measure vertical forces produced by each limb of the sow and evaluate data accuracy to the sow's known weight. It was found that all tested sows averaged more weight on their front legs than their hind legs and side-to-side weight differences had more variation than front-to-hind distribution. The deviation in front-to-hind weight distribution might be indicative of lameness in both hind or both front feet. To better illustrate the capabilities of the force plate, a 60-s data rolling average protocol was employed for the collected weight data which were recorded every second from each sow leg. The preliminary results indicate that the force plate system was able to identify sow lameness by separately measuring the weight of each leg. Future work will need to evaluate the magnitude of the difference in weight distribution between legs detected by the force plate system in order for producers to effectively determine lameness in sows.
This article is from Applied Engineering in Agriculture 27, no. 3 (2011): 475–482.