For sheep and cattle farmers, health and wellness of their livestock is paramount. From the use of antibiotics to biosensor technologies, remote behavioural monitoring and complex systems data analysis, speakers at TECHSPO’s Livestock Health & Wellness breakout session will share their knowledge on a broad spectrum of topics relating to animal welfare and touch on sustainability opportunities that are critical to the future of farming.

Dr Mark Ferguson from NextGen Agri will be leading TECHSPO delegates through his vision of a future sheep industry where management is augmented by cameras enabled with machine learning and sensors on everything – including the sheep.  He will provide an insight into the research projects that have been completed to date and that are underway to make this future a reality.

The concept of animal monitoring for livestock farmers will be a significant topic at this years’ TECHSPO. This territory will also be explored in Tim Gentle’s keynote on Day One, detailing the practical applications of augmented reality on working farms, and in AWI’s demonstration of smart tags on ewes on Day Two at Katanning Research Facility.

Similarly, David Miller from Murdoch University will be outlining the practicalities of this type of approach and how animal welfare indicators need to be cost-effective, reliable and replicable if they are to be used to accurately reflect the true welfare state of the animal.

The integration of different processes (behaviour, health and production) is recognised as vital for the development of new welfare indicators. Although welfare assessment is commonly perceived as ‘looking for negatives’, we also need to be able to identify positive affective states. Recent developments in biosensor technologies, remote behavioural monitoring and complex systems data analysis will be explored.

From another perspective, Lachlan Campbell from Proagni will be deep-diving into the implications of antibiotic usage in the animal industry, not just for the animals themselves, but as a global threat to human health. In a summary of his presentation, he comments, “During the last generation, two major challenges faced Agriculture, being herbicide and insecticide resistance. Day to day management practices on farm, have resulted in plants and insects with the ability to mutate and develop mechanisms to adapt and thrive. The good news, this adaption will likely not kill us!

But, can the same be said about our dependence on antibiotic use in the animal industry?
Management practices promote the broad scale application of antibiotics as growth promoting compounds in intensive animal production.  Studies have shown, that the repeated sub lethal dosing of antibiotics in animal production has a direct impact on antimicrobial resistance, AKA super bugs.  The World Health Organisation says this is a “major global threat to human health”, and the bad news, this adaption could kill us!”

As global demand for agricultural goods continue to rise as the world population closes in on 9 billion people, there are not only concerns for animal welfare and population health, but also in the security of ongoing animal feed production.  Can this demand be met while simultaneously addressing the social and environmental impact of feed and feed production, and the growing consumer demands for sustainably sourced goods? In a pioneering presentation, Luke Wheat from Future Green Solutions believes that insect farming may contain some of the answers, and black soldier flies may emerge as a potential livestock feed in the future.

Join Mark, David, Lachlan and Luke for this jam-packed presentation at TECHSPO, assessing livestock Health & Wellness from all angles.