Ahead of his speaking role at Animal AgTech San Francisco, we spoke to Henry Berger, Global Head of Marketing & Strategy, Diagnostics & Monitoring at Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health Business Unit about new measures for preventative health and animal welfare.

Henry Berger - BOEHRINGER INGELHEIM ANIMAL HEALTH BUSINESS UNIT, - Animal AgTech Innovation Summit, San FranciscoWhat are the most exciting new angles emerging for preventative health to reduce disease prevalance and improve animal welfare?
We are living in a world where any disease can quickly spread through human populations and animal herds with globalization, intensive travelling, exponential population growth and a huge level of urbanization are some factors that contribute to disease proliferation. African Swine Fever and COVID-19 are good examples of this. A key pillar for preventative health in the last decade has been and will continue to be vaccination. Vaccines are constantly being improved and have become more comprehensive due to new technologies being safer, effective, efficacious and more accessible. However, for more effective biosecurity and disease surveillance, preventative health needs to reach higher standard levels going beyond vaccination.

What approaches have been particularly effective?
New angles are being explored as we are in the era of digitization, IoT, artificial intelligence and big data. Currently there are great efforts in capturing animal behavior and movement, with production indices transforming data into actionable insights and predictive analytics that are relative to heath. This allows vets and farmers to make earlier decisions and measures to contain the impact of disease and production losses.

In other words, it’s possible to predict a potential infectious disease strike in a barn or a specific metabolic or chronic disease and it’s important that we understand the data and patterns. Another promising area is utilizing cutting-edge technologies that bring together diagnostic capabilities into the barn such as monitoring the results in minutes, not days and you can find out which pathogens are exposing a risk to the production and welfare of animals which is invaluable for quick and effective decision making. Obviously, there are other emerging technologies in genomics, gene-editing, CRISPR and other animal welfare related solutions such as smart barn design, piglets crushing alerts, stress sensors and cameras for weight gain. This can potentially improve production efficiency and preventative health.

Where does the next wave of innovation need to focus on?
Continuous development and improvement in vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, monitoring, management, nutrition and genetics must be integrated into meaningful ecosystems. Precision farming, data management and predictive analytics, behavioral monitoring, reducing antibiotic use, biosecurity, farm smart management and also the microbiome to name but a few.

Henry is speaking on the Opening Plenary: Growing the Animal AgTech Ecosystem through New Innovation Strategies and Collaboration Opportunities alongside Anterra Capital, Zoetis, Smithfield Foods, ADM, Wilbur Ellis and Cavallo Ventures at 9.15am on March 16 at the Animal AgTech Innovation Summit in San Francisco.