Innovative approach to effective animal husbandry with the use of digital technologies was presented at the second annual Agro Animal IT Forum – 2021, which took place at AgroSpring 2021.
What is smart feeding? What digital solutions for animal husbandry are popular in the world now? Which of them does Ukrainian market suggest?
These, as well as many other questions, were discussed by the international experts in pig and cattle industries and developers of digital technologies during 2 days at Agro Animal IT Forum 2021 that was held from the 16th till the 17th of February.
Organizers of the event are Ukrainian Stockbreeders Association and Kyiv International Contract Fair; the partner of the project is AVA Group company, the leading Ukrainian feed producer.
“Nowadays each second farmer in Europe feeds his animals using digital systems”, – mentions Viktor Nechmilov, Candidate of Agricultural Sciences, expert in IT solutions at the Ukrainian Stockbreeders Association, who started the forum with the report dedicated to the topic “Global digital trends in pig industry in 2021-2022”. “At present agriculture faces great problems: high price pressure, harsh international competition, global economic restrictions and growing demands to the quality of food and environmental protection. That is why effective and resource-saving management is particularly important now. Hence digital technologies come in handy.”
The speaker emphasized that digitalization has already become reality for ca. 52% of European farms, and it will remain a key trend for the next decade all over the world. “It includes growing number of autonomous field robots, use of drones and driverless tractors, sensors that define if plants need fertilizers or protection products, and IT technologies for animal farms that are developed by partners of Ukrainian Stockbreeders Association and will be demonstrated at today’s forum. All of this will allow using these tools precisely, hence – more economically effective.”
Maksym Shevchuk, СЕО of AVA Group, spoke about “Intelligent feeding as an effective solution for a modern farm”.
The speaker presented intelligent feeding – a direction that is a key vector of company’s activity today and a main trend in development of effective animal husbandry. “It is a synergy of precision feeding with scientific approach and new IT/AI technologies for management of effective production (cost)”, – this is how he defines the term “intelligent feeding”.
In his report Maksym Shevchuk pointed out 4 steps from which intelligent feeding consists of:
- Calculation of a diet
- Production of feed
- Feeding at all stages
- Analysis of effectiveness
“One of the main challenges that an investor faces is when expected results that were calculated with regard of use of particular technological solutions during investing in the project do not coincide with the real ones, – says Maksym Shevchuk. – Normally we have deviations from the expected results due to veterinary, technology of feeding, genetic peculiarities etc.
Hence our company asked a question: what can we improve in feeding? Studying the market and looking for solutions we noticed that there are many parameters in feeding that are manually measured now, so there is no guarantee that what the calculated result will be fulfilled.
For instance, a technologist has developed a diet based on scientific approach. But what really happens? The raw materials that are received contain less protein and the feed’s nutritional value is lower than it was calculated. Hence productivity is lower than expected too. Or for instance the components are chosen correctly, but they are mixed incorrectly which can affect productivity, not to mention farms where diet can be misused according to age groups, placed in wrong hoppers or fed in wrong time – because of all these mistakes made due to human factor, an investor losses much money every day. That is why feeding is not just about making a diet, it covers much more.”
To solve all these question, to realize each component of intelligent feeding AVA Group has developed a number of digital technologies that would allow managing all of these processes online from a smartphone, and Maksym Shevchuk presented them at the forum.
The speaker presented Profeed system, which allows managing feed production in fully automated mode from a smartphone. One of the modules of the system Profeed LAB (a sort of a portable laboratory) helps making analysis of raw materials that are delivered to a feed plant or department, store the data and send them to cloud. “Thanks to this a technologist has real indicators of raw materials components, can correct the diet quickly, in order to make it effective, – mentions Maksym Shevchuk. – For example, we calculated a diet with 7% of protein and received raw materials with higher percent of protein. A technologist will alter a diet so that we do not feed extra protein. Today when grain and protein components are getting more expensive every day, it is a substantial saving of money.”
The second step in intelligent feeding – preparation of feed – is no less important. “At first sight it is simple: you take components, weigh and mix them. It is possible to make it precisely on a modern factory. But it is more difficult to make it on a small or medium enterprise, because grain is delivered to a mixer through a portable device that is moved by an operator. So a human factor is involved. The device can be used for too long or attached to a wrong hopper, and the feed made as a result will be not exactly the same as it is needed, or the size for grinding may be different, which will affect the result.”
According to the specialists of AVA Group, all of these steps can be digitalized.
Profeed Pig system is a unique solution for management of mixed feed production at a farm, the likes of which a Ukrainian market has not seen before. It can be used at a factory and at a feed shop.
The weight controller is connected to the weight sensors of any feed mixer and transmits data to a mobile device, with which the feed shop operator prepares feed. All data received online is sent to the server. The whole feeding process is planned and controlled by a technologist online. The data exchange is instantaneous.
“With this system, the raw material supply hose will automatically shut off the grain supply when needed; it also eliminates the possibility of placing the hose in the wrong hopper, because each time to supply each component, the operator will conduct it through an individual QR-code. Thanks to this, the technologist can manage feeding on all farms from one place. “
The system also synchronizes data with management and accounting programs, and, therefore, there is an automatic calculation of costs and balances, which facilitates the work of financial reporting specialists.
The third step – feeding at all stages – involves targeted food delivery, prevention of losses during transportation, control of the amount of consumption and prevention of layering (during transportation).
“These processes can also be digitized. So, today in the development of the company such applications as control of logistics of the feed truck on the farm, control of weight on silos, control of feed consumption in feeders for sows, piglets for rearing and fattening. They allow you to constantly monitor the dynamics of growth of animals throughout the rearing period, and thus – to manage the cost of finished products with minimization of the human factor “- said Maksym Shevchuk.
The CEO of AVA Group also presented IT solutions for performance analysis on pig farms – a system using artificial intelligence (neural network, machine vision), which performs behavioral analysis of animals using cameras. By recording the behavioral parameters of animals, their growth and climatic indicators in the room it is possible to predict future development, and thus – to prevent disease, death and other problems, responding quickly to them through information obtained from digital solutions.
“So, we have a complete cycle of intelligent feeding with the use of IT tools: from the initial calculation of the diet, to the analysis of the final effectiveness.
Hence the process of intelligent feeding means effective use of digital technologies in feeding. As a feed producing company we try to allow the market, in particular a pig market, which suffers most from increasing prices of feed components, to achieve the percentage of profitability that they want to, which however is close to zero today because of the price of grain and pork,” – summed up the CEO of AVA Group.
All of these 4 steps which constitute an intelligent feeding were explained by the further speakers.
In particular, Oleksandr Hyrin, an expert on digitalization of AVA Group projects, spoke in detail about the Profeed Pig project presented by Maksym Shevchuk in his report “Control of investments of the livestock complex in a smartphone”, emphasizing that it provides quality management. “What is quality management? This is a quality forecasting, planning, coordination, management and control of available resources needed to effectively perform tasks. After all, feed is the most expensive part of the cost of meat, which must be effectively administered by management,” – said the speaker. Serhii Ryzhkov, director of Profeed Technology, analyzed the project from Profeed for cattle.
FEEDING TECHNOLOGIES: WHAT ARE THE NOVELTIES?
- In 1912 the record of dairy productivity was 2,800 kg per 365 days;
- In 2017 – a record-breaking cow produced 35,457 kg per 365 days (fat: 4,0; protein: 3,1)
Over a century a cow increased its productivity by 13 times!
It is clear that this has been achieved through the establishment of a scientific approach and the constant development of effective feeding technologies. Therefore, a number of reports at the Agro Animal IT Forum were also devoted to innovations in feeding as a component of intelligent feeding.
Kostiantyn Makhno, Candidate of Agricultural Sciences, Chief Technologist of Ternopil Bacon LLC, spoke about the application of modern feeding technologies and digital solutions at his farm.
“Our main task is to satisfy the needs of pigs for nutrients in each physiological period,” said Kostiantyn Makhno. – The period of weaning is especially important. After all, the greater the mass of piglets at weaning – the better will be the rate of its growth. As a result, the fattening period is reduced and feed costs are reduced. ”
According to the speaker, another factor influencing the economy of pork production is the number of unproductive days of sows (because unproductive days are an unnecessary consumption of feed). He outlined the ways to reduce them.
It should be noted that “Ternopil Bacon” is one of the first to use IT-solutions for farm management from a smartphone, which we described above, namely – 3D cameras to determine the growth rate, feeding strategy, economy – without stress; as well as Profeed Pig software for mixed feed production.
Peter van Dooren, Management Partner of Nutrivice Consultancy from the Netherlands, spoke about the peculiarities of metabolic programming of dairy productivity of cows in his report “Epigenetics: how to make genetics work”.
The speaker outlined the mechanisms by which certain genes can be “switched on” or “switched off”, emphasizing that differences in feeding experience in critical periods of early life – both before and after the birth of a calf – can program development, metabolism and health. Simply put – feeding can start the manifestation of certain genes in animals, and pass this information to their offspring. In particular, with the help of metabolic programming, you can determine the milk productivity of the future cow, and pass it to the next generations.
“By stimulating certain genes (which are responsible for health, milk productivity, etc.) in critical periods of early development, we are making constant changes in the physiology and metabolism of the animal,” – said the expert. – It all starts with breastfeeding. Negative energy balance of the mother in the early embryonic stage affects such indicators as the weight of the calf at birth, its health and milk productivity. Feeding of the young calves during the first 4-8 weeks is of key importance in metabolic programming after birth, because at this time it is possible to stimulate the development of more developed udder cells (parenchymal DNA), as well as higher cell activity (more parenchymal RNA to increase gene expression). ). “It is impossible to catch it up later.”
Thus, the growth of young animals in the first 8 weeks of life affects the development of internal organs, and, as a consequence, – the future milk productivity. That is, the more intensively a heifer grows in the first 8 weeks of life, the more milk it will give when it becomes a cow. Each additional gram of average daily gain during this period is transformed into an increase in milk yield by an average of 4-5 liters during the first lactation. “It is most profitable to invest in the dairy period, because the entire subsequent life of the cow depends on this period.”
Yurii Pozniakovskyi, Product Manager for Cattle Direction at AVA Group, continued the topic of feeding young animals with the report “Trends in Intelligent Feeding of Calves”.
He focused on the feeding during the starting period, noting that consuming a sufficient amount of quality colostrum in the first days of life is crucial. “A calf should receive at least 300 g of immunoglobulins with colostrum on the first day of life,” said Yurii Pozniakovskyi. – How to achieve this? Prevent bacterial contamination of the product as much as possible, as the amount of immunoglobulins important for the calf’s health is reduced due to the bacteria entering the colostrum. “