Professor Daniel Berckmans, co-ordinator of the EU-PLF projects presented results obtained in the EU-PLF project at the International Symposium on Animal Environment and Welfare that took place in Chongqing, China, from 23-26 October 2015 (http://2015.ircaew.org/dct/page/1).
In his presentation, Prof Berckmans shows how Precision Livestock Farming (PLF) technologies installed in 15 pig and broiler farms in various parts of Europe can provide valuable information to the farmers regarding the health and welfare of their animals. The capacity of the Pig Cough Monitor to detect respiratory problems earlier than the farmer and give him a warning has been confirmed in real farm conditions. Top view images provided by the eYeNamic system have also been proven to be effective in detecting important events in broiler farms (Figure 1) and in monitoring pig behaviour.
Farmers are actively involved in the EU-PLF project and have been asked several times over the year to give honest feedback on the way they use the Precision Livestock Farming technologies installed in their farms and on their expectations of these tools. Says Prof Bercksman,
From several workshops with farmers we learned that the Precision Livestock Farming systems in practice created value in several ways. First is the time saving issue resulting from the continuous automated monitoring. The PLF systems complement and augment the eyes and ears of the farmer. As a result, the farmer can focus now on solving problems and not too much on controlling his animals. A second advantage was described as the impact on social life since now the farmer can participate more in the activity of the community since he is not continuously needed at his farm: the technology will give an early warning or alarm when needed. A third point is the transparency for the farmer. He wants to show the consumers and the public how he is treating his animals. There is no need to enter his farm with hidden cameras since all information is available and used continuously for management decisions.”
The EU-PLF project will provide a freely available e-course and a Blue Print on Precision Livestock Farming. The e-course will be mostly targeted to students and industry staff who want to get a more in-depth knowledge of PLF. The Blue Print will be intended for “stakeholders, with a focus on farmers. It will describe how to implement the PLF systems in farms and which problems can be expected. This Blueprint is like a manual for farmers and companies who want to bring this technology to the farm.