There is a paradigm shift in the aims
of animal protein production today:
the circumstances under which animals are being housed and the impact livestock farming has on the environment and on the broader public
are considered to be as important as
the quality of the produce reaching
the consumer. The debate about antimicrobial resistance for instance is
high on the global political agenda.
is paradigm shift is also reflected
in the increased requirements for
farmers to document and to report
use of medicine. Several European governments are restricting the
usage of certain anti-infectives and
have started to implement a system
of monitoring, both the usage of anti-infectives and animal movements
in order to establish benchmarks for
the usage of medication based on
animal units under care. In addition, there is an increasing political
debate about animal welfare and requests by policymakers for farmers
to document animal welfare / animal health parameters as a basis for
farmers to maintain their licence to
produce livestock. These increased
requirements in terms of transparency of livestock farming are putting additional burden on farmers
and will accelerate the digitalization
process in livestock farming.
All the above forms the basis of
the PROHEALTH project which
is systematically developing new
knowledge on pig and poultry production diseases, as well as recommendations and tools derived from
this knowledge. In earlier editions
of this newsletter we had reported on novel digital tools for automated collection of environmental parameters in the barn and combining these with health records.
For first results produced with these
tools, see the article on the relation
between environmental parameters
and respiratory disease in today’s
Complementary to these efforts, experts of PROHEALTH member Zoetis have developed a new smartphone application to document interventions and observations in the barn, called SwineDialog. It is a cloud-based solution that allows storing important information on the wellbeing and performance of the pigs in a central database. It thus enables the farmer to make the information available for the vet, the farm staff or other professionals in a digital format for further processing, sharing or reporting.
A key feature of this novel application is that the data is accessible only by the individual farmer giving him/her the opportunity to understand in real time how his/ her farm and animals are performing, whilst maintaining data security. In particular with the help of a desktop-based web application the farmer can access the information collected in the barn and can view standard reports about biological performances and health developments in the herd. e farmer can choose to share this information with other professionals, such as the veterinarian or submit datasets as per legal reporting requirements. Furthermore, SwineDialog offers a way to communicate with staff members on the farm: treatment protocols, to-do-lists, link to updated training material and a log book which are helping farmers to ensure compliance to the use of medicines and in tracking the performance of their farm in real time.
The suite of digital tools developed or currently under development in the PROHEALTH project are all aiming to provide a practical aid to farmers and other professionals, including veterinarians, by capturing and analysing effortlessly diverse and complex data on animals’ wellbeing, nutrition, medicines’ use and other key environmental parameters. The ultimate goals of these innovative applications are to increase the welfare and productivity of pigs and rationalise the use of medicines like anti-infectives based on real data.