Development of an innovative precision farming system for swine

Project leader


Candido Pomar, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), Sherbrooke, Québec



Project objective


To acquire the required scientific knowledge to feed pigs individually with daily tailored diets for optimal management of feeds and animals and establish the numerical procedures needed for the development 

of a commercial fully automated precision feeder system for swine.



Summary of the project


This project will provide useful information and significant insights about the nutrition of pigs and the benefits of precision feeding techniques realized through the automation and intelligent management of feeding and animals. Animal studies will be performed to modify actual feed formulation programs for the simultaneous optimization of premixes, including:

  • Environmental constraints 
  • Study of individual feed intake patterns for early identification of diseases 
  • Updating the actual model for real-time prediction of feed intake, weight gain and predicting nutrient requirements 


The model will be calibrated for optimal formulation of lysine and other essential amino acids as well as for phosphorous and calcium. Finally, the project will evaluate the technical, economic and environmental impact of precision feeding systems in commercial conditions.


To achieve these objectives, a number of activities will be undertaken:

1. Model the metabolism of phosphorus and calcium and develop a system approach to estimate each pig’s individual daily requirements.

2. Modify actual feed formulation programs for simultaneous optimisation of two premixes with environmental constraints and optimal nutrient density.

3. Study the individual feed intake patterns for early identification of diseases.

4. Update the actual model for real-time prediction of feed intake, weight gain and predicting nutrient requirements.

5. Calibrate the model for optimal formulation of lysine and threonine.

6. Evaluate the economical and environmental impact of precision feeding systems.

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Significant achievements


One experimental trial has been completed in which the digestive and metabolic dietary P, Ca and phytase interactions have been studied and integrated into a mathematical model simulating the fate of dietary P and Ca in pigs from weaning to slaughter. This model will be used by the automated precision feeder system for swine (AIPF) to estimate individual daily P and Ca requirements. A second project has been initiated to develop a feed formulation method able to estimate the composition of two premixes simultaneously which combined in varying proportions can meet the requirements of pigs during the entire growing-finishing period while minimizing simultaneously feed cost, and nitrogen and phosphorus excretion. A third numerical study on the individual feed intake patterns for early identification of diseases is in its first stages. The first prototype of a mathematic model used to estimate in the AIPF the daily nutrient requirements of individual growing-finishing pigs has been completed. The model includes empirical and mechanistic model components. The empirical component estimates ADFI, BW and ADG based on individual pig information collected in real-time. Based on ADFI, BW and ADG estimates, the mechanistic component uses classic factorial equations to estimate the optimal concentration of amino acids that must be offered to each pig to meet its requirements. This model is under evaluation and will be further calibrated using the data of an ongoing project studying the minimal level of lysine at which growing-finishing pigs between 25 and 50, and between 85 and 120 kg bodyweight, will support maximal body growth or protein retention.