Next-generation IoT tags and machine learning will be deployed as part of new research aiming to deliver world class animal health and welfare in commercial piggeries.
The $1.2 million partnership between Food Agility CRC, Curtin University, Xsights Digital, Craig Mostyn & Co, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia, Pork Innovation WA and Beanstalk AgTech will also investigate the value of sharing the information throughout the supply chain.
Food Agility AI and Robotics Pillar Lead, Ashley Rootsey said the three-year project is drawing on experts from the Western Australian pig industry, technology, and supply chain systems.
“It’s hoped this research will provide pig producers with a tool to monitor animal health in real-time, allowing for earlier intervention to further enhance welfare, productivity and profitability,” he said.
“It will also examine how the technology could be applied throughout the supply chain.
“While this research focuses on the pig industry, the technology could have potential for other animal production industries,” added Rootsey.
The project will utilise data from Xsights IoT Tags (XIoT), a cost-effective wafer that can be retrofitted to a standard button ear tag, to report temperature, movement, and location of pigs in real time.
The research will unlock the value of this data by correlating it with biological measures from pigs in a commercial setting and use machine learning to develop a model to predict health and welfare outcomes of pigs, alerting producers to pig health status in real time.
The project will also create a digital record of pigs’ history to demonstrate animal welfare provenance to customers and consumers.
Quotes from project partners:
Dr Rob Wilson, Chair Pork Innovation WA, said, “Pork industry research and development is evolving and looking to technology over traditional solutions for enhancing on-farm welfare and consumer confidence is absolutely the way forward. The project represents a strong collaboration between a diverse range of organisations who each bring a unique set of skills. PIWA looks forward to supporting the project partners through access to experienced, on-farm research and project management personnel.”
Xsights CMO Dean Phillips said, “Our ‘Sensing as a Service’ model will enable users to scale with no upfront CAPEX cost, while providing a number of new and automated real-time location data sets to drive operational efficiencies.”
Dr Elizabeth Jackson from Curtin University said, “The project is a testament to the WA pig industry’s appreciation of using technology to create value in its supply chain. I will be focusing on how good animal welfare practices are emerging as critical to consumers who pay top-dollar for high-quality livestock products. This project will explore how reliable information can be collected and analysed through tag technology to ensure pigs are managed in the best possible conditions and consumers know about this good news story.”
Craig Mostyn Group, General Manager Meat and Livestock, Peter Spackman said, “The Craig Mostyn Group is excited to participate in this industry leading project to further understand the relationship between pig behavior and physiology with health, welfare, and productivity outcomes. This will further our ability to demonstrate to consumers around the globe about Australian provenance and how our dedication to the highest standards of health and welfare is delivering premium quality pork.”
Grant Gilmour, Director at Beanstalk AgTech said: “We exist to unlock the power of Ag to be a force for good. Beanstalk is looking forward to supporting the Craig Mostyn Group in this industry leading project to further understand the relationship between pig behavior and physiology with health, welfare, and productivity outcomes.”
DPIRD, WA Principal Research Scientist, Dr Bruce Mullan said: “This research will help underpin the value of electronic tags in providing invaluable data and evidence across animal welfare, livestock productivity, market access and biosecurity to optimise business potential.”
Please contact Christopher Komorek, Acting Communications Manager, to organise an interview with Dr Rob Wilson or Ashley Rootsey.