Image based systems for identification of individuals, breeds and diseases of pigs and goats

ImageIDGP: Image based Systems for Identification of Individuals, Breeds and Diseases of Pigs and Goats

Animal identification is the basis for keeping accurate production records of the herd/flock as important as animal management. Accurate records provide the farmer with enough information to make individual or whole herd/flock management decisions. Identification helps claiming insurance and other benefits in case of the death of the animal. In Indian context, with large number of animals, many of the breeds of domesticated species are yet to get a distinct identity.

Traditional animal identification methods such as ear notching or methods like radio frequency IDs are not able to provide accurate and secure animal identification due to possibilities of damage, theft, falsification and duplication especially for small animals like pigs and goats with highly scattered distribution of ownership in very small herds. These animals are extremely valuable for the livelihood and nutritional security in the North Eastern India. Also any method used to apply a marker to an animal entails some degree of stress and tissue damage. There is demand of a method which would identify the individual animals reliably and permanently with no adverse effects even in remote scattered herd.

Biometric methods which are non-invasive, economical and not amenable to any change are ideal for these needs. In the present proposed project, unique morphological trait(s) most suitable biometric markers will be identified in pigs (Sus scrofa domesticus) and goats (Capra circus). Some leads are available in animals like rabbits. Necessary algorithms will be developed for unique identification. A database will be established for storing and quick retrieval of the images on a regional basis for use by all relevant agencies.

There are quite a few goat and pig population groups in the NE India with unique features and which represent our unique genetic wealth but have been not properly identified, described and documented and so is highly vulnerable to loss of claims of right, lack efforts for conservation and use in genetic improvement.  There are so far, only two officially described and accepted breeds each of pig (Ghungroo and Niang Megha) and goat (Black Bengal and Assam hill goat) in the Eastern and North Eastern Region of India. This project will develop image based morphometric database these animal groups and with suitable algorithms classify into hierarchical groups up to the level of breeds and these will be authenticated by DNA markers.  It is expected to develop tools for image based real time map of the indigenous goats and pigs, their distribution, emergence, diversity and migration patterns.

Creation of image of based warning systems for diseases with visible external symptoms and/or behavioural for timely clinical intervention at the farmers’ level in  remote and difficult to approach regions will also be attempted in this project. This will be a very useful tool in veterinary public health management system. 

The individual animal identification methods for animals will be useful in census and accurate documentation of livestock wealth for planning, protection and implementation of various schemes.

E-Varaha: Information System for Safe Pork Production in North Eastern India

e-Varaha: Information system for Safe Pork Production in North Eastern India

Pigs are the most important livestock of the North Eastern Region (NER) of India which has 8% of geographical area and 4% of population of the country but 38.38% of the country’s pig population. One of the biggest challenges facing piggery sector in India especially in NER is ensuring ‘safe pork production’. Most of the pigs are reared by small/ marginal farmers with only few animals and very little inputs in terms of feed and health management. Also, pigs are slaughtered, processed and marketed under unhygienic conditions. Safe pork means meat free from physical, chemical, microbiological and parasitical hazards. Chemical hazards are minimal in NER because of less use of therapeutic drugs, pesticides, growth promoters etc. Challenges to safe pork production in NER are multifarious: varied sources of pigs ranging from locally reared to those moved from across the borders, lack of quick health examination methods both at the level of animal selection at villages/ markets and antemortem (AM) examination, dearth of aids for post mortem (PM) examination of carcasses, non-availability of quick pork borne pathogen detection methods and absence of traceability system for systematic identification & maintenance of livestock records.

To address the issue of developing AM and PM aids it is proposed to develop Infrared (IR) imaging based techniques. Two types of IR interventions are planned, viz, IR thermal measurements and IR spectral imaging. Infrared thermal imaging techniques will help in detecting the general wellbeing of the animals while IR spectral imaging can be used for specific disease identification.  At the level of selection of pigs for slaughter and at AM point, IR based techniques will help in examining general well-being, detection of febrile & septicemic diseases, stress level etc while at PM point IRT spectral imaging can help in detection of muscular dystrophies, presence of cysts, worm infestations, enumeration of total viable counts etc. By triangulating IRT images at animal selection level, AM level and PM level informed decision can be taken for acceptance/ rejection of the carcasses. These techniques will help in efficient AM & PM examination even in high throughput abattoirs.

To aid in selection of healthy animals free from parasitic infestation, attempt will be made to develop an IR based technique for detecting parasites, parasitic eggs, blood etc in fecal samples. For detecting meat borne pathogens in carcasses and in slaughter premises a biosensor based on impedance and surface plasma resonance will be developed. Pathogens commonly encountered in pork e.g. Coliforms, Streptococci, Salmonella, Listeria etc will be targeted in the project. Pathogen detection techniques will help in implementation of HACCP protocols.

An online database e-Varaha will be designed for storing and managing traceability information along with Decision Support System based on Correspondence Analysis of Data generated through the novel IT-based tools for monitoring health of slaughter pigs and evaluating microbial quality at Critical Control Points in the abattoir. e-Varaha would be accessible by farmers and other stakeholders through mobiles (cell-phones). After designing of database components, work stations will be established with all four AF partners and pilot scale enrollment (500 pigs/ centre/ year) will be undertaken to validate the system. Traceability backed quality assurance systems.