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Precision livestock farming requires structural/culture shifts

PLF technologies hold potential to revolutionize livestock production and animal health, but current structural and behavioral/cultural constraints need to be resolved before that can truly be realized.

Industry structure and behavior/culture changes are needed by livestock producers if the value of emerging precision livestock farming (PLF) is to be maximized, Dr. Dale Polson of Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc., Duluth, Ga., said in an abstract prepared for the emerging technologies session of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians annual meeting in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Polson explained that PLF ecosystems and their related integrated technologies are coming to livestock production that will be able to effectively deliver industrial science in real time. Effectively preparing for utilization of these PLF ecosystems and their integrated technologies, however, will require significant structural upgrades and even greater behavioral/cultural changes, he said.

For starters, Polson said, connectivity is needed to support PLF technologies. He noted that the livestock production connectivity infrastructure in North America is woefully lacking due in part to the typically remote locations where livestock production sites are located.

Beyond the structural needs, Polson said, an even greater challenge lies with the behavioral/cultural changes necessary for squeezing the greatest value out of emerging PLF technologies. The highest value of any given PLF technology is not realized one technology at a time in isolation but, rather, through broad adoption of the ecosystem that they are each a part of – an ecosystem made up of multiple technologies synthesized into a cohesive whole.

Livestock production systems also are not used to being participants in the early development plans of technology, particularly when the value of the technologies is not realized until there is relatively broad adoption. The hog industry will need to transform into a willingness to engage PLF companies and their developing technologies early on if PLF technology is to take hold.

PLF technologies hold the potential to revolutionize livestock production and animal health, but the current structural and behavioral/cultural constraints need to be resolved before that can truly be realized, Polson said.

Listen to our interview with Dr. Polson, live from the AASV 2019 annual meeting.

 

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