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Beef monitoring tool identified as a potential digital game changer

Beef Monitoring tool identified as a potential digital game changer
“The use of digital technologies can help the Agricultural community to increase the production of sustainably produced livestock. Digital tools can help farmers to transform farming and increase sustainable livestock production”

A beef monitoring unit which calculates animal weight automatically, thereby reducing stress for both the livestock and handler, has been identified as a potential digital game changer by the European project: DESIRA (Digitisation: Economic and Social Impacts in Rural Areas). DESIRA, a Horizon 2020 project, acknowledges the transformative nature of digitalisation and the impacts it can have in shaping the way rural communities learn, work, travel and interact. The project believes to reap the benefits and reduce the risks associated with digitalisation, rural communities need to identify potential game changers.

These emerging digital technologies have been compiled into an inventory of digital game changers, a tool to search these will be made available later in the project. The Ritchie Beef Monitoring Unit, which has been showcased by the James Hutton Institute, records data on the cattle’s weight, along with their individual tag numbers (Electronic ID tags), each time they step into the crate for water. Easy access to this type of data has substantial impacts to sector, allowing handlers to detect disease early and ensure optimal weights are achieved.

Claire Hardy from the James Hutton Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences (SEGS) department said: “The use of digital technologies can help the Agricultural community to increase the production of sustainably produced livestock. Digital tools can help farmers to transform farming and increase sustainable livestock production.”

The monitoring unit records animal weights automatically when they enter to accesses water, as the animal returns to the water multiple weights can be recorded and an average daily weight calculated. The unit is easy to install, relatively mobile and requires little maintenance. The use of solar panels to provide power for the unit further reduces costs and environmental impact. Average daily weights are calculated and stored in the cloud, accessible for the stockman via the website or app. The website and app ensure the data is processed, so no training or new skills are required before the unit can be successfully operated.

Constant remote monitoring of intensive livestock can result in early detection of abnormal weight changes, indicative of potential husbandry issues including disease, nutrition and management problems. Early intervention can improve general health of livestock, close monitoring also results in achieving optimal standard weight for slaughter giving improved economic returns. In addition, the monitoring of individual cattle weight can reduce feed and bedding requirements. This has an additional environmental benefit and results in improved sustainable cattle production.

The Ritchie Beef Monitoring Unit can be found here.

Notes to editors

DESIRA (Digitisation: Economic and Social Impacts in Rural Areas) is a Horizon 2020 project (2019-2023) coordinated by the University of Pisa which involves 25 partner organisations (research institutes, NGOs and SMEs) in a multi-actor and inter-disciplinary Consortium.

More information from: 

Adam Walker, Communications Officer, Tel:01224 395095 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard)


Printed from /news/beef-monitoring-tool-identified-potential-digital-game-changer on 17/01/21 12:17:36 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.