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Automated Weighing System Gets Patent

Osborne Industries creates method for weighing and sorting pigs.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has awarded Patent No. 7,210,428 on May 1, 2007, for the Osborne Industries' method for automated weighing and sorting of pigs to feed or market. The company introduced this new method to the pork industry in 2002 as the Weight Watcher Growth Management System.

According to the company, the Weight Watcher System tracks growth and the weight distribution in a large pen of 500 or more pigs. This knowledge ensures that each animal is always fed for its proper weight and rank in the pen distribution.

The concept was successfully tested for over 3 years at the company farm before being released for commercial use, according to inventor Ron Thibault. "Our focus on research caused us to lose the initiative in the market because some of our ideas leaked out and other suppliers quickly introduced the idea for sort barns and automated market sorting to cut sort loss, but the WWS is based on managed growth so the need for market sorting is greatly reduced," he says

Osborne reports that the WWS manages 500 pigs or more in one large pen by automatic daily weighing of pigs as they move from a common water area and are sorted into two or more large feed areas based on animal weight and the pen weight distribution. For two-way sorting, the median or middle weight is used and is updated automatically from the daily weight distribution. The WWS automatically adjusts the division of pigs into two or more feeding groups as they grow.

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