ILRI researchers develop mobile app to help farmers measure live weight of their animals

13 March 2020

Digital Content

Researchers from the Mazingira Centre at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), have developed a mobile phone application to help farmers better gauge the live weight of their animals.

The “eWeigh” app is a free farm management resource tool, built around the use of a simple and accessible proxy measure i.e. the heart girth (HG) to estimate live weight. Studies have shown that an animal’s LW is closely related to its chest circumference. Using the heart (chest) girth measurement has been found to yield a reliable prediction of LW in cattle and other livestock species such as sheep and goats.

This easy to perform measurement, used in conjunction with a set of tables (or equations), allows a farmer to estimate animals’ LW with some confidence, but here there have been problems. The LW/HG relationship is based on animal measurements and many published studies have used European breeds of cattle.

When these equations are used, there tends to be higher errors in estimates. The second problem is the calculation itself, where farmers must either refer to tables, or perform manual calculations to get their animals’ LW.

Since the estimation of an animal’s LW from its HG measurements can be influenced by several factors including breed, sex, environment and production system; it is necessary to develop specific models (algorithms) for predicting LW, that are context- and region-specific, in order to increase the accuracy of LW estimations.

The use of the HG measurement to estimate LW is a technique that has been used for over 70 years, with over 30 different algorithms developed for various populations of livestock around the world. The eWeigh app has been developed using an algorithm developed from an earlier study by Goopy et al., which is based on data from over 9,000 animal measurements in East Africa and West Africa.

This means that the app is developed from the most robust and widely applicable algorithm possible, which is both easy to use and flexible for additions and other improvements.

The eWeigh app is available on the Android platform and can be downloaded and installed from the Google Play Store. Once installed by a farmer, this application only requires input of the animal identification or name (ID) and the HG measurement to give a LW estimate. The eWeigh app does the calculations for the farmer, making it easy and convenient to use. Read the full article on African Business Communities here