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Title:
METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR KEEPING AND FEEDING FURRED ANIMALS, IN PARTICULAR MINK
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2008/101500
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A method and system for feeding and keeping fur animals, in particular mink, that are raised in arrayed fur animal cages of wire mesh in fur farms, and which are fed with a mink feed mix with a consistency that enables dosing feed portions from a container of a feed cart (2) via a hose or pipe and mouthpiece by means of a pump, the feed portions being placed upon a wire mesh side of the fur animal cage, as the consistency/density of the feed is controlled in order to avoid that feed portions or parts thereof fall down through the wire mesh side, wherein an unmanned motorised feed cart (2) is used which by means of sensors is guided along a guide wire or other signal emitter which, for example, is disposed at the floor along a row of fur animal cages or between rows of fur animal cages, and wherein communication equipment is provided on the feed cart adapted for - controlled by the central computer - communicating with programmable signal emitters designated individual fur animal cages and/or individual fur animals, so that keeping and feeding thereof may be optimised.

Inventors:
NIELSEN, Bjarke, Bennet, Christian (Hjertingvej 117, Varde, DK-6800, DK)
Application Number:
DK2008/000074
Publication Date:
August 28, 2008
Filing Date:
February 20, 2008
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
4M GLOBE MANAGEMENT LTD (823 Salisbury House, 29 Finsbury Circus, London EC2M 5QQ, GB)
NIELSEN, Bjarke, Bennet, Christian (Hjertingvej 117, Varde, DK-6800, DK)
International Classes:
A01K5/02; G05D1/02
Foreign References:
US5816192A1998-10-06
GB1564197A1980-04-02
US20060163338A12006-07-27
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PATRADE A/S (Fredens Torv 3A, Aarhus C, DK-8000, DK)
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Claims:

CLAIMS

1. A method for feeding and keeping fur animals, in particular mink, that are raised in arrayed fur animal cages of wire mesh in fur farms, and which are fed with a mink feed mix with a consistency that enables dosing feed portions from a container (4) of a feed cart (2) via a hose or pipe (6) and mouthpiece by means of a pump, where the feed portions are placed upon a wire mesh side of the fur animal cage, as the consistency/density of the feed is controlled in order to avoid that feed portions or parts thereof fall down through the wire mesh side, characterised in that an unmanned motorised feed cart (2) is used, which by means of sensors is guided along a guide wire or other signal emitter which, for example, is disposed at the floor along a row of fur animal cages or between rows of fur animal cages, and that communication equipment is provided on the feed cart (2) adapted for - controlled by the central computer - communicating with programmable signal emitters designated individual fur animal cages and/or individual fur animals, so that keeping and feeding thereof may be optimised.

2. Method according to claim 1, characterised in that cameras provided on the feed cart (2) and controlled by the central computer are used, and which are used for inspecting respective fur animal cages in order to register the number of fur animals in the individual fur animal cages and for observing possible obstacles on the driveway for the feed cart (2).

3. Method according to claim 1, characterised in that RFID-tags are used as the programmable signal emitters, and that equipment adapted for reading the RFID-tags and for updating information registered on respective RFED-tags designated individual fur animal cages an/or individual fur animals is provided on the feed cart (2).

4. Method according to claim 1 , characterised in that programmable RFID-tags are used for marking and registering individual fur animals who are each provided with an RFID-tag that e.g. is located at the nose of the animal.

5. A system for performing the method according to claim 1 and including fur animal houses or halls with fur animal cages arrayed so that a driveway is established along the fur animal cages or between the fur animal cages, characterised in that the system includes a central computer, a guide or signal wire which is preferably laid down in the driveway along the fur animal cages or between the fur animal cages, one or more unmanned motorised feed carts (2) equipped with one or more sensors adapted to interact with the guide or signal wire for controlling the feed cart (2), a number of programmable signal emitters designated individual fur animal cages and/or individual fur animals, and communication equipment provided on the feed cart (2) and adapted for - controlled by the central computer - communicating with the signal emitters with the purpose of optimising the keeping and feeding of the individual fur animals.

6. System according to claim 5, characterised by including a number of cameras provided on the feed carts (2) and controlled by the central computer, the cameras adapted for inspecting respective fur animal cages in order e.g. to register the number of fur animals in the individual fur animal cages and for observing possible obstacles on the driveway for the feed cart (2).

7. System according to claim 5, characterised in that the programmable signal emitters are constituted by RFID-tags, and that the feed carts (2) include equipment adapted for reading the RFID-tags and for updating information registered on respective RFID-tags that are designated individual fur animal cages an/or individual fur animals.

8. System according to claim 5, characterised by including programmable RFID-tags for marking and registering individual fur animals and that each fur animal is provided with an RFID-tag which e.g. is located at the nose of the animal.

9. System according to claim 5, characterised in that the feed cart (2) includes a feed container (4) with an integrated weighing machine, which via communication equipment is connected with the central computer by which other technical data regarding the feed cart are also checked continuously.

Description:

Method and apparatus for keeping and feeding fur animals, in particular mink

Field of the Invention

The present invention concerns a method for keeping and feeding fur animals, in particular mink, and of the kind indicated in the preamble of claim 1.

The invention also concerns a system for performing the method according to the invention.

Background of the Invention

The keeping and feeding of fur animals, particularly mink, require much manual work, why fur farming, especially at some times of the year, is very work demanding and costly.

The fur animals are of course to be supplied with fresh feed at regular intervals, preferably daily, which by itself is the most cost-laden part of the keeping work, though on the other hand, the fur animals are also to be inspected regularly in the breeding season in order to monitor the number of puppies in respective fur animal cages and to check if the bitches are keeping the puppies. At the same time, the allocation of feed is naturally to be regulated in dependence on the mouths to be fed in respective fur animal cages.

Object of the Invention On that background it is the object of the invention to indicate a method and a system which by means of simple technical means enables automating and mechanising most of the work demanding part of fur farming, and which moreover ensures improved well-being and welfare for the individual fur animals.

Description of the Invention The method according to the invention is characterised in that an unmanned motorised feed cart is used, which by means of sensors is guided along a guide wire or other signal emitter which, for example, is disposed at the floor along a row of fur animal cages or between rows of fur animal cages, and that communication equipment is

provided on the feed cart adapted for - controlled by the central computer - communicating with programmable signal emitters designated individual fur animal cages and/or individual fur animals, so that keeping and feeding thereof may be optimised.

By means of simple technical means it is hereby possible to automate and mechanise the most work demanding part of fur farming, and which moreover ensures improved well-being and welfare for the individual fur animals.

Suitably, there are used cameras provided on the feed cart and controlled by the central computer, and which are used for inspecting respective fur animal cages in order to register the number of fur animals in the individual fur animal cages and for observing possible obstacles on the driveway for the feed cart.

hi a particularly advantageous method, RFID-tags are used as the programmable signal emitters as well as equipment adapted for reading the RFID-tags and for updating information registered on respective RFID-tags designated individual fur animal cages an/or individual fur animals is provided on the feed cart (2).

With the intention of enabling to follow individual furs through the whole process, it may be additionally advantageous to use programmable RFID-tags for marking and registering individual fur animals who are each provided with an RFID-tag which is located e.g. at the nose of the animal.

The invention also concerns a system for use in performing the indicated method, the system including fur animal houses or halls with fur animal cages arrayed so that a driveway is established along the fur animal cages or between the fur animal cages, the system being characterised in that it includes a central computer, a guide or signal wire which is preferably laid down in the driveway along the fur animal cages or between the fur animal cages, one or more unmanned motorised feed carts equipped with one or more sensors adapted to interact with the guide or signal wire for controlling the feed cart, a number of programmable signal emitters designated individual fur animal cages and/or individual fur animals, and communication equipment provided on the

feed cart and adapted for - controlled by the central computer - communicating with the signal emitters with the purpose of optimising the keeping and feeding of the individual fur animals.

Furthermore, the system according to the invention is suitably designed it includes a number of cameras provided on the feed carts and controlled by the central computer, the cameras adapted for inspecting respective fur animal cages in order e.g. to register the number of fur animals in the individual fur animal cages and for observing possible obstacles on the driveway for the feed cart.

The system according to the invention is preferably designed so that the programmable signal emitters are constituted by RFID-tags, and that the feed carts include equipment adapted for reading the RFID-tags and for updating information registered on respective RFID-tags that are designated individual fur animal cages an/or individual fur animals.

With the intention of enabling to follow individual furs the whole course from birth to processing of e.g. a fur coat, it may be particularly advantageous to design the system according to the invention so that it includes programmable RFID-tags for marking and registering individual fur animals, and that each fur animal is provided with such an RFID-tag which e.g. is located at the nose of the animal.

With the purpose of optimising the system according to the invention, this may suitably be designed so that the feed cart includes a feed container with an integrated weighing machine, which via communication equipment is connected with the central computer by which other technical data regarding the feed cart are also checked continuously.

Description of the Drawing

The invention is explained more closely in the following with reference to the drawing, on which:

Fig. 1 shows a perspective view of an embodiment of an unmanned feed cart for use in the invention, as seen from the front;

Fig. 2 shows a perspective view of the feed cart in Fig. 1, as seen from the front but at another viewing angle;

Fig. 3 shows a perspective view of the feed cart shown in Fig. 1, as seen obliquely from behind; and

Fig. 4 shows yet a perspective view of the feed cart shown in Fig. 1, as seen from the front.

Detailed Description of the Invention

The feed cart 2 shown in the drawing is largely designed as a usual motorised feed cart 2 with upwards open feed container 4 and with feed outlets at both sides via two tubular arms 6, each having an articulated joint 8 at the base and with an articulated joint 10 about the middle of the arms 6.

The feed cart 2 is designed as an unmanned motorised feed cart, i.e. a feed cart with a usual combustion engine, e.g. a diesel engine disposed in an engine compartment 12 at the front of the feed cart 2 which is fitted with four drive wheels 14 with the usual pneumatic tyres 16. The drive wheels 14 are pivotably mounted at a front and rear axle.

The feed cart 2 includes not shown ultrasound sensors that suitably may be incorporated in the articulated joints 10 so that the ultrasound sensors at opposite sides of the feed cart 2 do not interfere with each other.

hi connection with the base joints 8, the feed cart 2 includes a not shown dosing pump for dosing rather precise feed portions, which are delivered at the top of a wire mesh side of a fur animal cage. The tubular arms 6 imply great mobility, why the feed cart 2 may serve fur animal cages at several levels (storeys).

A feed cart 2 or FarmRobot™ according to the invention is to fulfil the following functions, which are not necessarily all included in the first model.

The feed cart 2 or FarmRobot™ is an unmanned feeding machine that drives and follows a cable/signal. The feeding takes place at one or more sides, and the amount is determined by an RFID-tag system. The RFID-tag system is updated by a hand terminal or FarmRobot™.

FarmRobot™ is updated from a central computer via a wireless network. For controlling FarmRobot™, one or more cameras are mounted that enable monitoring from a central computer.

The consistency/density of the feed is controlled by means of central computer according to fixed programs depending on the season. Registration of newly born/number of animals per cage is effected via cameras.

Via cameras and the central computer, a continuous registration is effected as to whether the feed has been eaten, as each fur animal cages has its own RFID tag on which relevant data regarding the fur animals in respective cages is registered, as the RFID tag is continuously updated.

It is preferred that a new RFLD tag is established for each fur animal in the fur animal cage, and this individual RFID tag follows the fur animal the whole life and subsequently the fur right up to processing. The RFED tag of each fur animals is suitably located in the nose which is not appreciably influenced by this.

The following data may e.g. be stored in an RFID tag:

The ID number of the fur animal which is recorded by FarmRobot™, feed data, feed to be delivered now, total feed, total feed for the fur animal cage, weight of the animal, genealogical table, sex, number of puppies born, number of fur animals in the cage and data for FarmRobot™, when e.g. feeding directly upon nest cage.

Monitoring functions in random sequence which may be read via the central computer:

Amount of fuel; engine oil pressure; engine water temperature; hour counter; engine rpm; tyre pressure; oil level; angle of dosing arm; hydraulic pressure; hydraulic oil level; level in water dosing tank; feed weight in feed container; density of feed; actual forward speed; total amount of feed fed today; locality, i.e. which hall/row is the cart driving in; estimated remaining time before all animals have received feed; kg feed left in feed container/silo; expected feed consumption the day after with regard to ordering feed, which possibly may be effected automatically by modem.