This project will design a software platform to provide animal welfare information. It will help producers to optimize the production process and consumers to have more information about the background of animal products. Consumers, producers, regulators and policy makers are involved from the beginning in the design of this new platform.
Animal welfare has become a fundamental aspect of livestock production, but its assessment remains a challenge. The European project ClearFarm aims to exploit the new technological possibilities to improve animal welfare throughout the production chain, thus contributing to improved sustainable pig and dairy cattle production, the two livestock systems with more production in Europe.
In this sense, the project will co-design, develop and validate a platform that will collect data from different sensors on animal welfare and it will offer the processed information to farmers and consumers to assist their decision-making.
It will use available sensors in the market capable of controlling a wide range of variables related to animal behavior, physical and mental health, environmental impact and productivity. For example, cows and pigs will wear collars or ear tags that can transmit data about how they move around the farm, how many times they eat or drink, etc. Other sensors, such as microphones and environmental sensors, will also be fixed in farms with the ability of transmitting real time information about temperature, humidity, CO2, etc.
This data will be collected by a connected platform that, through an algorithm, will provide easy to understand information about animal welfare adapted to the different audiences. On the one hand, farmers will be able to see in a web page the updated information on the status of the animals, with an emphasis on early-warning signals that can help them anticipate to welfare problems and implement preventive measures. On the other hand, consumers will be able to know the product's welfare history (meat or milk) by scanning, for example, a QR code of the label that will direct them to a website with the information.
The platform will be tested in different commercial farms of pig and dairy cattle from different countries. The objective is to be capable to inform the welfare status in a variety of production systems, considering geographical divergences within production systems in Europe.
Innovative approach to involve all the stakeholders
An innovative aspect of the project is that consumers, producers, regulators and policy makers, among others, are involved from the beginning in the design of this new platform.
In spring 2020 ClearFarm has organized different workshops with consumers and producers to meet their needs and preferences in relation to animal welfare and the best solutions to address it. Through design thinking methodologies, the project wants to gather all the relevant actors together, so that their needs, ideas and sensitivities are full represented, and ensure that the newly developed technological solution fit into their requirements.