Predictive farming for greater sustainability in animal breeding

Published on May 26, 2020

Predictive farming for greater sustainability in animal breeding

As you know, sustainability involves a lot of balance between many components and our approach to breeding programs is no exception. Hendrix Genetics balanced breeding programs are designed to maximize value for all parts of the protein value chain, including consumers.

Supporting Hendrix Genetics’ contributions to the United Nations’ (UN) 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, SDG 12. Responsible consumption and production, and SDG 17. Partnership for the goal; Hendrix Genetics initiated a data-driven based project four years ago. The project strives to set new standards for sustainable animal breeding. By using data combined from various equipment controllers and the latest & greatest technology we can find solutions for product performance deficiencies and offer the most valuable solution for optimizing the total value chain. This initiative turns dreams into reality with introducing sustainable concepts of sculpting individual breeding and farm management programs specific to the demands of each location.

Exploring sustainable solutions

Hendrix Genetics has partnered with several leading suppliers to gather exceptional amounts of precise data from customers’ farm performance. This project began when the R&D team Swine began evaluating different technologies and partners to work with to bring new tools and applications to the Hypor breeding program. Due to the complexity in keeping the full supply chain in mind, this project underwent multiple initiation steps, for instance, definition of applications, definition of technologies, definition of partners, definition of business models, definition of Proof of Concepts (POCs), validations in our own breeding herd and today we are in the last exciting step of the first POCs defined, validation in commercial farms.

It starts with knowledge sharing

Sharing data from different sources, different devices, different companies, leads to sharing knowledge. Using data engineering all this data is compiled into one Big Data platform and via data science modelling used to better predict future product performance per animal, per pen, per department, all the way up to farm level. This technology and data sharing help us find better solutions faster, to steer solutions before challenges may even arise. We feel that this, along with our breeding programs and expertise, gives us the golden opportunity to better the industry and help set the standard in sustainable animal breeding.

Innovative Technology

This project uses measurement and management of various macro and micro technologies to completely automate pig farming, increasing efficiency and profitability across the entire supply chain. From macros of climate, feed/water consumption, animal weights and growth curves, lighting and waste we have found micro technologies that can help identify and integrate performance solutions. Using micro technologies like digital identification, robotics and software integration we can gain powerful knowledge and truly maximize the full value of individual animals.

Predictive performance data

The final POC is built from multiple blocks: from sensors, IT platforms, dynamic dashboards, to AI or statistical models and web or mobile apps. This innovation has the ability to predict the animal’s performance in advance, allowing customers to see how each animal is advancing towards their target, enabling adjustments made in real time. With this knowledge we can form a plan of action on what changes we can make to create the most value for entire herds or individual pigs.

More full value animals

Currently, the biggest struggle for pork producers globally is finding a solution to increased grow-to-finish mortality on their farms. During research through this project, it was determined that on average 27% of total swine born did not make it to slaughter at final production. That’s a lot! This means valuable resources are used and energy is wasted. Using this platform and technology, we are able to identify sooner if animals are falling behind in grow-to-finish phase, make immediate changes and capitalize the full value of animals. In addition, the data provide valuable customer results back into our breeding program as well as incorporating results from our own nucleus and multiplication farms.

Reducing waste

As research shows, mortality rates are a major issue for the livestock industry. As leaders in animal breeding, Hendrix Genetics wants to help lead the way to solve the waste in livestock production systems. Using knowledge gained and shared through this project can not only help us on a breeder level to provide clear answers and solutions to the challenges producers are facing in swine but also could also be applied towards other animal species. Increasing survivability for all species and reducing the impact on the environment with a reduction of wasted products and resources.

The opportunities for the innovative use of these technologies are truly endless and Hendrix Genetics is proud to be a part of the ground research helping to set standards in sustainable breeding. This project contributes to our vision of setting the standard in sustainable breeding. We know that these sustainable solutions are on the horizon and by gathering the data and resources needed we can minimize energy and wasted products while maximizing product performance and benefits for all involved.

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