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Food Access Control System: CLAMS

The Food Access Control Option is a unique feature of the Feed Scale sub-system for the CLAMS that allows the user to allow and deny availablity of food to the subject. A pneumatic arm automates raising and lowering the food gate, allowing the user to pre-program, through the provided software, regular feeding intervals for the subjects based on time, mass, or both.

Powdered food lies inside of a feeding assembly that rests on a precision balance. The subject accesses food by eating from a spring loaded dish through an anti-foraging guard. Spillage is accounted

for by a larger dish, beneath the main food cup, that catches anything that spills over the edge; this spillage collection cup also rests on the balance, and though spilled food is not not accessible by the animal, the mass remains on the balance.

Mass Controlled Food Access
Food access is accomplished by defining 4 parameters: Time On (tON), Time Off (tOFF), which are both defined as time-of-day at the top of the hour, Duration (DUR) defined in hours, and Limit defined in mass (g). In the case of mass regulated access, tON must be defined to open the feeder, tOff and Duration are both set to "none" and then a maximum mass limit is entered in grams. Once the target mass has been reached, the food gate raises and food is cut off from the subject. The graph to the right indicates how this works with differing mass limits.

Time Controlled Food Access
There are 2 ways in which time can be used to regulate when food is available to the animal. A specific window can be defined by simply choosing a start time (tON) and a closing time (tOFF). The graph to the right shows how this could be set up, and how the out come may look.

 
Alternatively, multiple feeding windows can be defined by choosing a start time (tON) and choosing the length of each window by defining the duration (DUR) in hours. However, the duration setting must a factor of 24 (number of hours in a day). An example of how this may look is pictured right; two 6 hour feeding windows.

Time & Mass Controlled Food Access
Finally, access to food can be controlled by both time or mass simultaneiously. As always, a start time (tON) must be defined to initialy open the feeder. Feeding windows are defined as mentioned above. When setting the mass limit, that mass is the maximum mass allowed PER feeding window. If the mass limit is reached before the time limit, the feeder will close, and vice versa. The graph to the right illustrates what could occur for different subjects with significantly different feeding behavior.

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