2017 | by PROHEALTH Consortium | Print Article

There is a paradigm shift  in the aims of animal protein production today: the circumstances under which animals are being housed and the impact livestock farming has on the environment and on the broader public are considered to be as important as the quality of the produce reaching the consumer. The debate about antimicrobial resistance for instance is high on the global political agenda. is paradigm shift  is also reflected in the increased requirements for farmers to document and to report use of medicine. Several European governments are restricting the usage of certain anti-infectives and have started to implement a system of monitoring, both the usage of anti-infectives and animal movements in order to establish benchmarks for the usage of medication based on animal units under care. In addition, there is an increasing political debate about animal welfare and requests by policymakers for farmers to document animal welfare / animal health parameters as a basis for farmers to maintain their licence to produce livestock. These increased requirements in terms of transparency of livestock farming are putting additional burden on farmers and will accelerate the digitalization process in livestock farming. 


All the above forms the basis of the PROHEALTH project which is systematically developing new knowledge on pig and poultry production diseases, as well as recommendations and tools derived from this knowledge. In earlier editions of this newsletter we had reported on novel digital tools for automated collection of environmental parameters in the barn and combining these with health records. For first results produced with these tools, see the article on the relation between environmental parameters and respiratory disease in today’s issue.
Complementary to these efforts, experts of PROHEALTH member Zoetis have developed a new smartphone application to document interventions and observations in the barn, called SwineDialog. It is a cloud-based solution that allows storing important information on the wellbeing and performance of the pigs in a central database. It thus enables the farmer to make the information available for the vet, the farm staff  or other professionals in a digital format for further processing, sharing or reporting.

A key feature of this novel application is that the data is accessible only by the individual farmer giving him/her the opportunity to understand in real time how his/ her farm and animals are performing, whilst maintaining data security. In particular with the help of a desktop-based web application the farmer can access the information collected in the barn and can view standard reports about biological performances and health developments in the herd. e farmer can choose to share this information with other professionals, such as the veterinarian or submit datasets as per legal reporting requirements. Furthermore, SwineDialog offers a way to communicate with staff  members on the farm: treatment protocols, to-do-lists, link to updated training material and a log book which are helping farmers to ensure compliance to the use of medicines and in tracking the performance of their farm in real time.

The suite of digital tools developed or currently under development in the PROHEALTH project are all aiming to provide a practical aid to farmers and other professionals, including veterinarians, by capturing and analysing effortlessly diverse and complex data on animals’ wellbeing, nutrition, medicines’ use and other key environmental parameters. The ultimate goals of these innovative applications are to increase the welfare and productivity of pigs and rationalise the use of medicines like anti-infectives based on real data. 


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