PreciseAg - Developing Precision Livestock Tools
Using modern technologies including GPS, GIS, accelerometers and a variety of other precision technologies, the PreciseAg project will work towards supporting livestock performance and welfare and knowledge transfer for existing and future farmers.
A key objective this research (Funded by HEFCW) will be the dissemination of up-to-date knowledge to the next generation of agriculturalists. In collaboration with Coleg Cambria Llysfasi a suite of resources will be developed in the domain of precision livestock management for Further Education (FE) establishments as well as Aberystwyth University. To keep track of this project and see events in which we will be involved visit our News and Events Page
The aim of our current research is to investigate 5 areas where precision technology tools could be developed to assist farmers.
To see images associated with the project so far please click here
Trial 1 - Identifying Parasite Risk
Liver fluke is a major cause of clinical and sub clinical disease in livestock and is estimated to cost the UK agricultural industry £300 million annually through production losses and mortality. The recent development and spread of Triclabedazole resistant liver fluke is a major cause for concerns and farmers are being urged to manage their pastures and livestock to reduce infection opportunities for the parasite. To aid this, research will be conducted to develop novel and easy to apply environmental DNA detection assays capable of identifying and mapping fluke infection risk areas on pasture. The grazing behaviour of sheep around these risk areas will also be monitored with the aim of identifying if sheep at the highest risk of disease due to grazing contact with infection risk areas can be distinguished and prioritised for anthelmintic treatment.
Trial 2 - Early Detection Of Impending Lambing
Mortality in lambs can be a huge issue with up to 13 % of lambs dying in the first two days. Within this project we aim to use precision monitoring technologies in order to model sheep behaviour in relation to lambing. In the future this could allow farmers to accurately detect lambing, in advance, remotely and to have information on the likelihood of interventions being required.
Reduced feeding behaviour in cattle is associated with other health events, such as mastitis, lameness and metabolic disease. Approximately 40% of dairy cows get mastitis each year, and approximately 30% of cows can become lame each year. The aim of this work package is to investigate the associations between feeding behaviour of cattle, the data produced by precision livestock technologies, and the onset of these disease states. This is in order to produce robust models which will help us to identify impending health risks, including lameness and mastitis. With these models farmers could be alerted in order to treat faster, improving animal welfare whilst reducing any associated production losses.
Pre-weaning calf mortality can be as high as 15% in UK dairy herds leading to large economic losses. Reducing these losses in part requires that pre-weaning health issues are detected earlier so that treatments can be administered promptly. This work package will make use of a subjective health scoring system that can be used daily by farm staff to carefully check for health abnormalities in dairy calves from birth to weaning. In conjunction with these subjective assessments, precision technologies will be used to continuously monitor and collect information on the behaviour of these calves. Ultimately, the behavioural information gathered could be used to produce a system that alerts farmers of developing health issues for earlier treatment and a reduction in calf mortality.
The key reservoir of parasite eggs for infection of grazing livestock is faeces. Previously positive effects in terms of parasite burden are reported in horses (where this is common practice on yards) and in Donkeys. This trial will to look at new ways to manage pasture efficiently in regards to removing faeces at key time of the year, in order to reduce the general burden of all helminth worm species on livestock. This could lead to farmers needing to treat animals less, reducing the cost, potential for resistances developing and increasing productivity of livestock production.
AU Project Team
Coleg Cambria Llysfasi Project Team