Advancing Digital Technologies – Animal AgTech Innovation Summit

Bruce Stewart-Brown, Senior Vice President of Food Safety & Quality Live Operations at Perdue Foods

Digital technologies are revolutionising the animal agtech industry with disruptive innovations emerging to offer farmers actionable insights for herd management, disease detection and nutritional needs.

The Animal AgTech Innovation Summit in Amsterdam (October 1-2) will share expert insights into new technology innovations overcoming key challenges for the livestock and dairy sector, with viewpoints from industry leaders including Allflex Livestock Intelligence, Boehringer Ingelheim, Connecterra, Perdue Foods and SomaDetect.

Animal Welfare
The advancement of new technologies is transforming animal welfare in the livestock industry by ensuring that the animals live more comfortably. Poultry producer Perdue has made a huge effort to improve animal welfare in poultry production by adopting its new Controlled Atmospheric Stunning (CAS) system. This increases the level of carbon dioxide to calm then sedate the chickens before rendering them permanently unconscious before the processing begins.

Bruce Stewart-Brown, Senior Vice President of Food Safety & Quality Live Operations at Perdue Foods shares examples of how technology is providing a higher quality of care for farmers to raise their animals efficiently: “Temperature sensors and automated vents in live haul trailers allow drivers to adjust the temperature within the live haul trailer mid trip. Chicken houses can adjust air flow throughout the course of the day, depending on input from multiple air quality sensors.”

Tom Breunig, VP Global Accounts & Business Development at Allflex Livestock Intelligence

Tom Breunig, VP Global Accounts & Business Development at Allflex Livestock Intelligence, a global livestock identification company, explains: “We have living creatures that are the source of our livelihood and we should treat them as any other animal by keeping them safe, stable and healthy, and in this way our investment is also secured. The only way we do that is by using 24/7 data, which is generated by the animal itself and is individual, precise and in real-time. We monitor the animals every minute, so there is no better way to secure their wellbeing and longevity, while allowing them a voice to give us immediate feedback.”

Smart Integrated Livestock and Dairy Farming
Technology start-up Connecterra has created IDA, an artificial intelligence-powered service that learns the behaviour of farmers and dairy cows to run farms more efficiently.

Yasir Khokhar, CEO at Connecterra

Yasir Khokhar, CEO at Connecterra explains: “The sensor, combined with farm data and the farmer’s input can detect the onset of health problems in dairy cattle, even up to 48 hours before the problems become severe. This means the farmer can intervene sooner and prevent the cow from becoming clinically sick. With mastitis for example, this can prevent the use of antibiotic. Data from real farms confirmed that our technology can reduce antibiotic use by 50%, hence leading to less spreading of AMR.

“Healthier, longer living dairy cows are based not only on monitoring the health of individual cows, but also ensuring that they live in an environment that is free from stress, have access to feed and water and are managed well.”

SomaDetect provides farmers with the information they need to make the best possible milk. The company’s core technology is an in-line sensor capable of monitoring critical indicators of reproductive status and health and milk components from individual cows. SomaDetect’s sensor uses no consumables (no chemicals, cartridges or lost milk), is extremely quick (seconds, not minutes), and fits into existing milking equipment.

Bethany Deshpande, CEO at SomaDetect says: “We have noticed how powerful some information is at closing data loops and this is where we are with dairy herd management. New and exciting technologies today are ones that help connect multiple data sources and ultimately close the data loops on farm. This means pulling together everything we know about feed, production levels, disease prevalence, herd genomics, milk quality and more to deliver real, connected insights.”

George Heidgerken, Global Head of Livestock at Boehringer Ingelheim

AMR Prevention with Alternatives to Antibiotics
The second largest animal health company in the world, Boehringer Ingelheim develops innovative solutions in the field of vaccines, parasiticides and therapeutics to protect the welfare of animals. George Heidgerken, Global Head of Livestock, says: “There is a strong consumer-based trend requesting the removal of antibiotics from livestock production. In response, the animal health industry is increasingly focusing on disease prevention, thus reducing the need to use antibiotics. Faster than ever, farmers and vets in the food producing industry are replacing antibiotics with the use of improved biosecurity procedures and increased implementation of vaccination programs, as well as other farm management best practices.”

Reducing the spread of AMR (antimicrobial resistance) is a responsibility of both the human health and veterinary professionals. The livestock sector has already made astounding efforts in reducing the risk that livestock animals become a reservoir for resistant bacteria genes. This includes the ban on preventive (growth promoting) antibiotics in many regions in the world and the ban on certain critically important antibiotics (antibiotics that are also used for treatment of human diseases) for use in food producing animals.

This year the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the World Health Organization (WHO), launched the AMR Multi-Partner Trust Fund to ensure that antimicrobial agents continue to be effective and useful to cure diseases in humans and animals.

Bethany Deshpande, CEO at SomaDetect

Challenges to overcome with AMR
There are key challenges in AMR being addressed today in a myriad of exciting ways. Deshpande explains: “New technologies will result in faster identification of disease, sometimes even to the specific pathogen, which will enable farmers and veterinarians to more accurately select an effective treatment in a fraction of the time it takes today. The issue of AMR is forcing all of us to address this issue actively and think about who we treat, how we treat them, and what is used. All of this can be better informed with technology.”

Breunig (Allflex) believes that most farms rely on separate softwares to run their feed delivery, milking system, herd management software, herd monitoring system and air flow/cooling platforms.  “In the years ahead, we will see companies developing more products to make the data, from multiple systems that are easier to interpret. It will also mean more consortium’s across companies to ensure they are easy to use on a growing farm. ”

Technology associated with finger printing has different bacterial isolates that may come in and out of an animal production system, which allows us to better understand where a particularly resistant strain of bacteria might have originated from and how it is or isn’t evolving. Stewart-Brown (Perdue Foods) explains: “These same tools help us study different approaches to eliminating particularly high-risk bacteria.  Not all bacteria are bad, so understanding what mix of bacteria create an antagonistic environment for certain antimicrobial resistant bacteria requires additional new techniques and technologies.”

New Frontiers
With digital technologies making headway in the animal agtech space, it’s critical that farmers are able to manage their livestock and herd management with cutting-edge solutions from exciting dairy-tech start-ups such as Connecterra and SomaDetect. We are seeing huge efforts from Allflex Livestock Intelligence, Boehringer Ingelheim and Perdue Foods protecting the welfare of animals to improve disease detection and enhance their nutritional needs.

Digital farming technologies will be the subject of three sessions at the Animal AgTech Innovation Summit in Amsterdam (October 1-2) which focuses on new breakthroughs and opportunities for innovation and investment in sustainable animal health, nutrition and precision farming.

Digital technology-focused sessions include:

  • Building the Animal Agtech Ecosystem with insights from Boehringer Ingelheim
  • Smart Integrated Livestock and Dairy Farming – Bridging the Efficiency Gap for On-Farm Solutions with insights from Allflex Livestock Intelligence, Perdue Foods and Somadetect
  • Driving Collaboration in Animal Agtech – Forging Creative Partnerships with insights from Connecterra.