As people’s diet continues to change due to constantly growing financial possibilities, the worldwide demand for animal products, such as eggs, milk and meat, is anticipated to rise significantly in years ahead. Consequently, the number of animals is increasing while the farmer population continues to decrease. This will result in bigger herds of animals to manager per farmer. Farmers that raise livestock as part of their agriculture practice or as a sole farming business must take essential measures to efficiently manage their animals and maximise the yield of desired crops while reducing the environmental impact. For that, farmers or ranchers must capitalise on the potential of digitalisation and this is where precision livestock farming comes in.
WHAT IS PRECISION LIVESTOCK FARMING?
Precision livestock farming (PLF) is part of the smart agriculture system that involves integration of digital technologies across livestock systems to achieve better farm management, sustainability and profitability. The aim of precision livestock farming is to improve animal health, welfare and productivity which is achieved through implementation of automated real-time monitoring and management systems that alert the farmer to any unusual activity or problem in the ranch. PLF is significantly different from other traditional approaches that try to monitor animal health, welfare and product/reproduction by assessing animal-based indicators, such as appearance, changes in behaviour, health and psychological parameters. While these traditional methods may help identify issues in livestock and prevent them from worsening, they do not improve the life, welfare and overall productivity of the animal. It is good to detect a problem after an animal has arrived at the slaughterhouse and before it reaches the market, but it is much better to detect any livestock problem while the animal is being reared and take immediate action to address the issue.
Precision livestock farming is focused on real-time monitoring which helps warn farmers right when something goes wrong so that they can act immediately and mitigate risks. Precision farming techniques have been applied by farmers and agribusinesses to real farms for decades now. However, as several digital advancements take place in the agriculture industry, precision agriculture has now come to the mainstream of agriculture and become more popular than ever in the livestock management sphere.
IMPACT OF DIGITALISATION ON LIVESTOCK MANAGEMENT
Livestock farmers who manage cattle, animal ranches, dairy farms, poultry farms or other livestock-related activities, are required to not only ensure proper care and feeding of animals, but also keep accurate financial records, supervise workers and conduct various inspections on a daily basis. PLF integrates the use of smart sensors, microphones and cameras that reduce human workload and help livestock farmers make important decisions on time to protect their animals, minimise losses and ensure greater productivity. These digital tools serve as virtual eyes and ears to the farmer and help them improve their everyday operations with data collection, real-time tracking, automation and analysis.
Several studies and recent trends have proven that digitalisation in livestock management is revolutionising the way farmers used to manage their animals and related operations. Advanced developments over the decade – including big data, sensor technology, cloud computing, internet of things and artificial intelligence, have resulted in significant improvements in agriculture sector, especially livestock management systems, making monitoring and managing livestock much easier and data-driven. Effective implementation of digital technologies can significantly reduce manual workload and free up the farmer’s time. Farmers are able to monitor their animals closely providing support during production and can identify any problems that arise in real-time and deal with them immediately.
The emergence of digital technology and tools hold lucrative opportunities and promises for farmers involved in livestock farming and production. With endless possibilities at their disposal to raise healthy livestock and produce quality agricultural goods to meet the constantly growing food demand of a burgeoning global population, livestock farmers must embrace digitalisation. However, it is important to note that application of digital solutions in livestock management is a complex process as it involves continuous monitoring which generates large amounts of data. That data needs to be properly analysed in order to provide insights into your animals’ health and condition and suggest improvement that must be made for better livestock management and production.
At KG2, we build digital solutions that are tailored to your exact farm management requirements. We put together all the important data from farmers’ digital marketplace in one place so it can be analysed in a continuous and automated manner to open up opportunities for improving food quality and safety, sustainability, production and animal welfare while minimising environmental impact.