Using artificial intelligence to identify sick livestock

Project aims to provide cost-effective solution to identify illness in livestock and reduce environmental impact of farming.

November 4, 2020

3 Min Read
dairy cow and calf
Digital Vision

Livestock welfare could be improved, thanks to a new research project that will combine the use of novel artificial intelligence methods with behavioral analytics to provide rapid and reliable insights to animal health for farmers across the U.K.

The research and commercial feasibility program, co-funded by Innovate UK, the U.K.'s innovation agency, will be led by the Quant Foundry (QF), in collaboration with the University of Bristol Veterinary School and Agri-EPI Centre.

The team, headed by Dr. Chris Cormack at QF, will run a feasibility study with professor Andrew Dowsey and animal welfare experts Drs. Siobhan Mullan, Suzanne Held and professor Michael Mendl at the University of Bristol and Agri-EPI at the South West Dairy Development Centre in Somerset, U.K.

The project aims to provide a new cost-effective solution for farmers and veterinarians to identify illness in livestock, providing not only cost savings but also a means to reduce the impact of farming on the environment, according to a news release from the University of Bristol.

Cormack, QF managing director, said, "In conjunction with our research partners, Bristol Veterinary School and Agri-EPI, the study of behavioral analytics in animals will open up a new era in artificial intelligence driven solutions for farmers. We have great hopes that not only can we help farmers provide improved care for their livestock but also help reduce their economic costs and their environmental impact."

Dowsey, chair in population health data science at the Bristol Veterinary School and a specialist in data solutions for health and agriculture, added: "This collaboration is a fantastic opportunity to translate cutting-edge artificial intelligence approaches to build upon the U.K.'s high standards in cattle welfare and support farmers in our targets for net-zero emissions."

The South West Dairy Development Centre is a state-of-the-art, 180-cow dairy unit in Somerset that provides an innovative environment for the development, testing and demonstration of new technologies and techniques to support sustainable, efficient and high-health and welfare milk production.

Duncan Forbes, head of dairy at Agri-EPI, said, "Agri-EPI's South West Dairy Development Centre is dedicated to the development and evaluation of exciting emerging technologies such as this, and we're looking forward to working with Quant Foundry and Bristol Vet School."

Throughout the project, the team will be seeking partners to help them commercialize and build capability as the project matures; this can range from direct investment or from interested companies looking to complement their existing activities in this upcoming area.

Based at the University of Bristol's Langford Campus, the Bristol Veterinary School offers first-class clinical facilities and encompasses a small animal hospital, a dairy farm, diagnostic laboratories and farm animal, small animal and equine practices.

Since its inception in 2018, QF has specialized in developing innovative solutions in artificial intelligence and finance and made a commitment to building solutions that reduce the impact of greenhouse gas emissions and help understand and manage the risks of climate change.

Agri-EPI is accelerating the adoption of precision agriculture and engineering technologies to boost productivity across the whole agri-food chain by exploring how to optimize performance of highly complex agricultural production and processing systems. The center provides world-class research and development facilities, connects academia and industry and progresses next-generation technologies such as sensing, imaging and robotics to create a new understanding of production efficiency.

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