IMAGEN programme funded by NWO-TTW: a better life for pigs and laying hens

The recently funded IMAGEN programme brings research into animal behaviour together with computer science to improve the health and welfare of pigs and laying hens and to reduce the ecological footprint of the food production.

The project is a collaboration of Wageningen University and Research, Utrecht University, and Eindhoven University of Technology, together with Dutch breeding and technology companies, organizations of farmers and veterinarians, and the Dutch organization for the protection of animals. The program is funded by NWO-TTW in the context of the Perspectief instrument.

In the IMAGEN program, the researchers will develop an Artificial Intelligence system to automatically detect individual behaviors in large groups of pigs and laying hens. The system should automatically detect actors and victims of anti-social behaviors such as feather pecking and biting.

Data from this system will be integrated with genomics data to identify individuals that are genetically superior with respect to social behavior. By using these individuals as the parents of the next generation, natural genetic variation in social behaviors can be exploited for sustainable genetic improvement of populations of pigs and laying hens.

A short informative video about this programme: Beter leven voor varkens en kippen