Sustainable Pig Farming: The Impact of Tracking Technology

Tracking Technology

Sustainability in pig farming is a serious concern as the industry seeks to strike a balance between economic viability, environmental administration, and animal welfare. Tracking technology has emerged as a transformative force in this arena, offering innovative solutions to longstanding challenges.

Current Challenges and Opportunities

The current state of data in pig farming offers great opportunities for health and welfare monitoring, risk identification, and the development of best practices. However, these opportunities are often limited by the fragmented nature of the data, which is typically available to only a few specific chain partners. Sensor technologies are employed to detect welfare and health issues, but the data generated is not always integrated with other data sources, resulting in missed opportunities for transparency and comprehensive analysis.

For more overview of current trends and technology being used, you can read this extensive article by Christos Tzanidakis a, Panagiotis Simitzis b, Konstantinos Arvanitis c, Panagiotis Panagakis „An overview of the current trends in precision pig farming technologies“.

Innovative Solutions by Digi4Live

Digi4Live is demonstrating how to digitise datasets and connect them with other data sources to create a comprehensive and unified data resource. For instance, in broiler and pig production chains, a digital welfare assessment framework will be established. This framework will be developed through stakeholder workshops and validated in market studies, ensuring it addresses the needs of all relevant actors.

The data-driven welfare and quality (WQ) framework will harmonise welfare and health data, including sensor-based data and market-based solutions. This integration enables competent authorities to track welfare and health status more effectively, identify risks, and support the industry in developing best practices, benchmarking, and improving product quality. Increased transparency in production processes will benefit consumers, producers, and regulators alike.

Real-World Applications and Outcomes

The approach of connecting various data types, including sensor data, is highly reproducible across different species and countries. Digi4Live is identifying existing smart digital applications to record data and create documents that should be included in TRACES, the EU’s Trade Control and Expert System. By analysing automation options in pigs, poultry, and beef cattle, the project aims to reduce the burden of double data entries, leverage GPS-based location data, and utilise digital transport logs.

This integrated approach will improve the control of animal welfare and the environmental impacts of intra-EU transports. It will also enhance transparency and communication among producers, processors, and consumers. The concept of automated data handling for animal and product movements is expected to reduce the burden on industry actors while improving control and transparency. Swineweb has a blog where they delve into the role of technology in health management for more information.

Enhancing Sustainability

Digi4Live’s ultimate goal is to improve the welfare of cattle, pigs, and broilers in Europe while enhancing the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of animal production. The project’s data collection efforts rely on routine procedures on commercial farms and previously collected datasets, such as farmer and veterinarian registers. This ensures that no new sensors or biological material collections are required, and any necessary data collection will adhere to national codes of good production practices.

For more insights on sustainability in large-scale pig production, you can refer to this comprehensive article by National Hog Farmer.

Sustainable Pig Farming

Key Benefits of Tracking Technology in Pig Farming

  1.     Improved Animal Welfare: Tracking technology allows for real-time monitoring of pigs’ health and welfare. Sensors can detect changes in behaviour, weight, and other indicators of well-being, enabling farmers to address issues promptly.
  2.     Enhanced Data Integration: By integrating data from multiple sources, farmers and regulators can gain a comprehensive view of the entire production process. This holistic approach leads to better decision-making and more effective management practices.
  3.     Increased Transparency: Transparent data sharing helps build trust among consumers, producers, and regulators. It ensures that all stakeholders have access to accurate information about the conditions in which animals are raised.
  4.     Risk Identification and Management: Early detection of health and welfare issues through tracking technology allows for timely interventions, reducing the risk of disease outbreaks and other problems that could negatively impact animal welfare and farm productivity.
  5.     Economic Efficiency: Automated data collection and integration reduce the time and effort required for manual record-keeping. This efficiency can lead to cost savings for farmers and more streamlined operations.
  6.     Environmental Sustainability: Improved tracking and data integration can help identify and mitigate environmental impacts associated with pig farming, such as waste management and resource use. This contributes to more sustainable farming practices overall.

For more detailed insights into the impact of tracking technology on sustainable pig farming practices, you can see this article in Animal Frontiers.

The Ambition of Digi4Live

Digi4Live is an ambitious project aimed at enabling the development and exploitation of digital technologies and data from multiple sources for all major livestock species, including pigs, poultry and cattle. These species collectively represent over 35% of the value of output in EU agriculture. The project’s goal is to integrate data from various sources in a robust manner, a task that is methodologically, technically, and ethically challenging.

As a coordination and support action, Digi4Live is designed to bridge gaps within and between research and innovation (R&I) and industry cooperation. The project employs measures that enhance standardisation, dissemination, awareness-raising, communication, and networking. By engaging key actors and fostering collaboration, Digi4Live aims to significantly improve livestock evaluation, tracking, and the utilisation of big data for the benefit of science, policy, and business.

Future Prospects and Replicability

The solutions and frameworks developed by Digi4Live have significant potential for replication and upscaling across the EU and beyond. The approach of connecting and harmonising data, including sensor data, can be applied to other livestock species and production systems. Additionally, the automation of data handling and improved transparency can be extended to other aspects of the agricultural supply chain, enhancing overall sustainability and efficiency.

Tracking technology is a key driver of sustainable practices in pig farming, offering a pathway to improved animal welfare, increased transparency, and enhanced economic and environmental sustainability. The ambitious goals and innovative solutions of the Digi4Live project showcase the potential of digital technologies to revolutionise livestock farming. By integrating data from multiple sources, improving transparency, and enhancing welfare monitoring, Digi4Live is paving the way for a more sustainable and efficient future in pig farming. The project’s efforts will not only benefit the livestock industry but also contribute to the broader goals of sustainable agriculture and food production in the EU and beyond.

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