Precision Livestock Farming at WCAP
The World Conference on Animal Production (WCAP) continued on Friday, July 6 with a morning session on Precision Livestock Farming (PLF). PLF is the use of advanced technologies to optimize the contribution of each animal in order for farmers to deliver better results in livestock farming. Ilan Halachmi of the Institute of Agriculture Engineering began the morning by discussing the practical application of PLF and how these systems have been utilized in Israel in research and in farming corporations. Irenilza de Alencar Nääs, Professor at Paulista University, continued the discussion by presenting on machine-learning and the importance of real-time decision-making in animal husbandry. Managing a large group of livestock can be difficult, especially when evaluating large data sets; machine-learning is designed to take PLF to the next level by dealing with the entire set of data trying to understand the whole. Decision tree algorithms, decision rules, and a series of yes/no questions have the ability to assist farmers in real-time decision-making for more efficient livestock production. Trevor DeVries, Ph.D. Professor at the University of Guelph, then presented on the challenges and opportunities in precision health monitoring of dairy cattle. DeVries focused on how animal scientists and farmers can utilize automation in precision farming to keep cows healthy, productive, and efficient. Specifically, measures of behavior that may be collected automatically, including feeding, rumination, lying/standing, and milking behavior, and the association these behaviors have with various health issues, including metabolic and infectious transition disease, lameness, and mastitis. Precision monitoring is anticipated to assist in identifying cows at risk or experiencing illness earlier, which will, in turn, allow producers to identify and implement prevention and treatment earlier.
The remainder of WCAP Session 1 was spent discussing two specific studies regarding animal production. Eva Tvrda, Research Scientist at the Slovak University of Agriculture, presented on the presence of bacterial species in boar semen and their impact on the sperm quality and oxidative balance, and Tim Luke, Ph.D. Student at La Trobe University, presented the concept of using mid-infrared spectroscopy of milk as a tool to predict subacute ruminal acidosis.
Abstracts for the above-mentioned presentations can be found here.