Alibaba uses AI to speed up detection of pregnant pigs seven times, boosting efficiency of China’s hog farms

Chinese pig breeders have accumulated years of experience to determine if a sow is pregnant, based on careful observation of the animal’s behavioural changes over a 21 day period – a task made more challenging because each farmer has to keep tabs on up to 80 pigs at a time.

Now there’s a way to do it in just three days, thanks to artificial intelligence.

Using facial-recognition cameras, Alibaba Group Holding’s cloud unit said it has developed an algorithm that can accurately diagnose pregnancy in pigs by observing changes in their behaviour, physical appearance and eating patterns after mating.

The solution, which can also detect a failed pregnancy as early as the third day after mating compared to 21 days the conventional way, is designed to increase the number of newborns on pig farms, according to Alibaba Cloud. The solution is expected to be put to use in some of Alibaba Cloud’s partner farms in southwest China’s Sichuan province early next year.

China has 700 million pigs, representing about half of the world’s total. In recent months a number of internet companies have launched ventures to revolutionise the country’s pig farming industry.

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