How new technologies are changing agriculture
There is a lot of talk in Europe at the moment of improving animal welfare in farms and also of reducing the use of antibiotics in the livestock sector. Improving animal health is a key first step in improving animal welfare, but contrary to what some might think, good animal health is not about “caring” for animals. Our # ‘MorethanMedicine’ approach to animal health means not only ensuring access to innovative tools to prevent disease and support more holistic care, but also ensuring responsible use of medicines when needed.
There are good reasons to be concerned about the potential dangers of antibiotic abuse in humans and animals. We share this concern and actions have been carried out in the livestock sector for more than a decade now. The European agricultural sector is indeed helping to protect the effectiveness of antibiotics.
Over the past decade, sales of antibiotics to livestock have fallen by 34 percent on average, thanks to the efforts of vets, farmers and our industry. This is reflected in recent statistics for various animal health products sold in Europe: vaccines now account for 34 percent of the share, while antibiotics have fallen to less than 12 percent.
“Over the past decade, sales of antibiotics for livestock have fallen by 34% thanks to the efforts of vets, farmers and industry.”
The European livestock sector has moved resolutely towards a ‘prevention is better than cure’ approach, which has enabled the animal health industry to focus more investment in innovations for disease prevention and disease prevention. early diagnosis and finding new and better ways to improve overall animal health and welfare.
Our industry is currently at the forefront of a technological and digital transformation that precisely aims to achieve this. By providing alternative solutions to breeders collectively called Precision Livestock Farming, new tools can help breeders provide optimal animal health care to improve animal welfare, support responsible use of medicines and ensure better traceability.
Breakthroughs in biotechnology, detection tools, sensors and robotics, genomic testing and advanced vaccines, among others, are expected to become essential tools for the future of animal husbandry and the veterinary profession.
Using smart sensors in barns can capture data such as sounds, movements or temperature, which can help the farmer to more accurately care for an individual animal, even on a large scale. For example, thermal cameras allow farmers to monitor the temperature of their individual animals at all times.
This means that a temperature spike can be detected without even having to interact directly with the animal, signaling the need for additional care. This animal can then be examined for other signs of illness and treated appropriately. Another example is sound sensors that can detect key indicators of disease on farms, which – let’s face it – can be extremely noisy places.
In pig farms, for example, the use of sound sensors can detect the telltale sign of a cough which may indicate respiratory disease. This means that an individual pig can receive treatment if necessary or be separated from the herd so that other animals do not become infected. In fact, the use of these surveillance technologies has been shown to detect signs of disease up to two weeks earlier than conventional practices. This can play a key role in reducing disease and the need to use antibiotics.
These two examples provide a good basis for earlier diagnosis by a farm veterinarian, and new tools are being deployed to enable point-of-care diagnosis. This means the vet can immediately decide whether an antibiotic or other treatment is needed and which one to administer.
With these “lab-on-a-chip” style diagnostics, not only does it increase user convenience, it once again helps improve animal health and welfare and supports responsible drug use. Meanwhile, new technologies such as DNA or mRNA are transforming preventive measures, and new vaccine delivery methods are improving the efficiency and accuracy of mass vaccination through needle-free, automated applications. or conveyor belt for example.
For poultry, new methods even offer in ovo vaccination (in the egg). This not only facilitates the breeder’s work, but can also promote better uptake of vaccines, which in turn offers better animal welfare, since these innovations have the advantage of being considerably less invasive for the animal. ‘animal.
Many of these new technologies offer real-time data collection, analysis and delivery of relevant information directly to the farmer’s tablet or smartphone. There are of course costs associated with these technologies, and training on how best to use them is advised.
“Breakthroughs in biotechnology, detection tools, sensors and robotics, genomic testing and advanced vaccines, among others, are fast becoming essential tools for the future of animal husbandry and the veterinary profession”
But by better linking the factors of animal management, farmers can achieve more holistic farm management and provide more consistent and improved care for their animals. Therefore, it is essential that EU policies help farmers, especially the younger generation, to access these tools. They are an important part of what will make the difference for farmers when they achieve their sustainability goals.
Find out more via: https://connectedhealth.animalhealtheurope.eu/