Published on Feb. 26, 2019
Seven mathematicians, five days – one turkey body weight challenge
We recently participated in a fast-paced workshop in collaboration with Wageningen University. SWI is an event where mathematicians work in groups to examine six industry challenges from a variety of fields. The catch? They must present their findings in only five days.
This year, we challenged this group of talented minds to examine turkey body weight prediction using force plates and walking behavior. Capturing accurate data on animal body weight is a key aspect of any breeding program. Improving the accuracy of selection is the only way to achieve genetic improvement, year after year.
The topic we contributed was on the issue of turkey body weight prediction. In a recent trial, approximately 200 turkeys were walked individually through a corridor where a force plate was placed. During each walk, force plate output voltages (eight channels) were captured to log the walking behavior. Along with the force plate records, the actual body weight of each bird was measured using a scale. We were interested in discovering a model that can accurately predict turkey body weight. This could potentially increase selection accuracy as well as reduce the amount of labor needed to manually weigh birds on a scale.
Results of the workshop will be examined within our R&D department. We were pleased to be included in this event where enthusiasm, innovation, and collaboration were all on display.