Precision livestock farming for pigs

Erik Vranken, Dries Berckmans
2017 Animal Frontiers  
Introduction To guarantee accurate and continuous monitoring of individual animals at a modern livestock farm, farmers nowadays need reliable and affordable technologies to assist them in performing daily management of tasks. The application of the principles and techniques of process engineering to livestock farming to monitor, model, and manage animal production is called precision livestock farming (PLF). Precision livestock farming seems like the only realistic way to support farmers and
more » ... port farmers and other stakeholders in the livestock production chain in the near future while at the same time coping with the rising demand for meat. Precision livestock farming is a series of practices aimed at increasing the farmer's ability to keep contact with individual animals despite the growing intensification of livestock production. It aims to achieve economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable farming through the observation, behavioral interpretation, and control of the smallest possible group of animals. It enables farmers to reduce operational costs such as expenditures to feed, medication, and energy. Moreover, farmers can use PLF technologies to monitor animal health and welfare to ensure that animals live well and are free of diseases. Precision livestock farming systems aim to translate the output of the technology to useful information to the farmer. Commercial products need a combination of hardware complying with certain technical and safety standards in combination with software, a good user interface, a backup solution to store data, an auto-restart function in case of power failure, manual and help functions, and installers who can install and service the product, etc. Results and potential of PLF technology are mostly unknown to animal scientists, veterinarians, ethologists, etc. due to a lack of collaboration among different disciplines. However, there is no doubt that the combination of new technologies with biology offers great opportunities for the EU in terms of realizing and implementing directives as well as in economic and social terms. A lot of data are already automatically registered by the in-house control computers and collected on a farm computer. In practice, however, the pig farmers hardly use this information. As a result, they miss out on money because deviations in the production process are not noticed or noticed too late. However, the biggest challenge with PLF is to convert this growing amount of data into usable information so that, throughout the day, the farmer can use the relevant information directly to manage operations.
doi:10.2527/af.2017.0106 fatcat:ojwj4uqon5gvziznigfdhp4774