New Precision Livestock Farming technology contributes to animal welfare

Precision Livestock Farming is smart technology that enables individual animals to be monitored more closely on farms that continue to upscale the size of their operations. The growing world population implies that the demand for meat and eggs will increase by more than 65% over the next 40 years. In order to secure food supplies for more than nine billion people worldwide, the number of pigs and chickens and the scale of farms where they are raised must increase. A parallel development is the declining number of farmers. This means that each farmer has to care for a growing numbers of animals, while there is an increase in demand from society that the right of animals to individual attention is respected. 

New Precision Livestock Farming technology contributes to animal welfare

Focus on the animal

This creates challenges and forces us to investigate new technologies to continuously and automatically monitor animals.  Precision Livestock Farming makes that possible. We need to focus on animals individually, so their signals can be detected and interpreted. We need to be able to answer questions like: 

  • Are they experiencing good levels of welfare?
  • Are they healthy?
  • Are they displaying normal behaviour?
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iFarming

iFarming (also know as smart farming) is Fancom’s system for animal housing that keeps your farm and livestock in the very best condition. iFarming is characterised by automatic and continuous monitoring of all environmental factors in the house, combined with measurements on and around the animal.  The result is sustainable and profitable production! The new Precision Livestock Farming (PLF) technology is also applied within the scope of iFarming.

Measuring animal welfare

When automating climate and feeding processes it has been customary practice for years to apply advanced technology designed to improve the process. So it is strange that when we actually assess animal welfare, we still rely on subjective and incidental methods such as periodic inspections in the house or even assessments afterwards in the slaughterhouse. But for accurate valuation of animal welfare, it is crucial to measure on and around the animal as well as taking the environmental factors into account. Skin problems, body condition and abnormal behaviour supply a wealth of data about the well-being of an animal. In comparison to periodic inspections, automatic registration also has many advantages. Firstly, automatic registration can take place continuously and in real time. In addition, this form of registration is more objective. Periodic physical inspections are time-consuming and because they can disrupt the daily routine in the house, gives a less reliable picture. This can lead to the actual situation being misinterpreted.

Precision Livestock Farming technology keeps a watchful eye on the animals 24/7

Precision Livestock Farming (PLF) is a collective name for a suite of technologies that we use on and around the animals in the house to continuously monitor their body condition. A key factor is that PLF enables animals to be monitored as a group from minute to minute, 24/7. This systematic monitoring allows certain patterns to be recognised. If those patterns differ from the expected patterns, an early-warning system can be developed based on these signals. 

Measurement technology 

Various sensor technology is used to make measurements on and around the animal. This includes chips placed in or on animals and cameras and microphones that register data remotely. A good example is the eYeGrow weight monitor that utilises camera technology. eYeGrow can monitor the development of a group of finishers from day to day.  But existing systems already installed in the house also generate valuable information about the animals.  For example, your feeding system provides data on feed and water consumption and an animal weighing system gives an indication of animal activity. The software indicates that animals are:

  • Moving around less.
  • Failing to eat or drink.
  • Having a growth rate that is slowing down. 

Something is evidently wrong, as all these signals are often a first sign of illness. A system of continuous monitoring is far more likely to detect these signals, often before the farmer actually notices them. This allows faster and more targeted intervention. Here are some other technologies related to precision livestock farming: 

eYeGrow

What does Precision Livestock Farming mean for farmers?

Precision Livestock Farming can never replace the role of the farmer. However, PLF makes it possible for farmers to allocate their valuable time more efficiently. With PLF applications, farmers can direct their attention to the individual animals that need their help. On their daily inspection of the houses, they can concentrate on the places that need attention, or where problems are a potential threat. This is set to change the lives of farmers and their animals. Farmers can take action as soon as an animal is experiencing any problems. In addition, they can devote more time to preventing problems, so that animals can be reared, or can produce, in a healthy and animal-friendly way.