Happy And Healthy Livestock: The Promise Of The IoT

Christian Kern and Marius Oestreich

As long as humans have lived in settled communities, we’ve been raising livestock. Goats, sheep, and pigs have all been domesticated for at least 7,000 years. The ability to harvest meat was essential for fueling the growth of civilization.

Over the millennia, our animal husbandry practices have evolved considerably. Once, raising livestock was a very labor-intensive, hands-on process. Today, with the advent of factory farming, that process has become mechanized, digitized, and scaled up beyond the wildest dreams of our ancestors.

One thing has remained constant, however. To be successful, it’s critical to maintain happy, healthy animals. Today, the Internet of Things is helping farmers fulfill that mission, while also making the process of raising livestock vastly more efficient.

What is the Internet of Things?

The power of online connectivity was once largely confined to computers or computing devices. These days, however, vehicles, buildings, household appliances, and untold other objects are all networked and connected. The use of embedded sensors, actuators, and software allows these devices to collect, manage, and analyze data.

When these devices are connected, they can sense the environment and communicate – allowing them to understand complex situations and respond quickly. Machine learning capabilities allow some of these systems to act independently of human intervention.

Ultimately, this means IoT-enhanced processes can radically improve efficiency and performance. They can use the power of advanced data analysis to help us solve problems and improve existing strategies.

One of the areas in which IoT technology has proven particularly useful is in the realm of livestock management.

How the IoT is keeping animals happier and healthier

The sheer size of the world’s managed livestock supply is staggering. There are roughly 19 billion chickens, 1.4 billion cattle, and 1 billion pigs globally. The task of caring for these animals and preparing them for harvest is enormous. The economic value of these animals is also profound. In the European Union alone, livestock are worth 125 billion euros annually.

Given these numbers, it’s easy to see why effective livestock management is critical. These animals are a major financial asset. They are also responsible for feeding billions of people. On the other hand, large-scale livestock raising creates pressure on the environment. Fertilizers, fuel, and feed must be used, and greenhouse gases and other chemicals are released into the environment in large quantities.

Fortunately, the IoT and other technological advances are making livestock management more efficient, cleaner, and safer. Farmers can monitor the health and well-being of their animals remotely, which in turn reduces the number of animals lost to illness. This monitoring happens in real time and can stretch over large, dispersed physical spaces. Farmers can also use IoT technology to assist with animal movement and location tracking – a major efficiency boon.

The delivery of feed can also be optimized to reduce waste, saving money and reducing the load on the environment. Data can be analyzed to improve production, minimize fertilizer use, and manage stock levels.

Remote livestock management requires only the use of sensors, a cloud platform. and low-power WAN connectivity. Today’s applications allow ranchers and farmers to track key herd data (such as weight, growth, and mortality), control environmental conditions, and efficiently manage the feeding and growth of any group of livestock.

Ultimately, these IoT-assisted benefits help create healthier animals and greener pastures – while allowing ranchers and farmers to reap the financial advantages of greater efficiency and less waste.

The takeaway

Livestock management is big business. Yet its importance extends far beyond mere numbers. By helping ranchers and farmers improve their processes, IoT technology helps ensure that animals remain healthy and well cared for. Meanwhile, greater efficiency gains ensure these operations become more profitable – while also reducing strain on the environment.

And that’s an outcome that virtually everyone can support.

Learn how to bring new technologies and services together to power digital transformation by downloading “The IoT Imperative for Consumer Industries.” Explore how to bring Industry 4.0 insights into your business today by reading Industry 4.0: What’s Next?

Christian Kern

About Christian Kern

Christian Kern is a Product Manager at SAP Innovative Business Solutions taking care of the Agricultural solutions for the Meat- and Dairy Industry as well as for the Farming business. Christian has a PhD and is Agricultural Engineer, with more than 25 years of food industry experience. The last 13 years at SAP he stayed focused enhancing the SAP footprint at food industry companies. As global Business Developer in the Service area he initiated many meat industry customer engagements globally, as Industry Value Advisor Consumer Products he accompanied and led different sales cycles at food industry customers and as Product Manager he helped to enhance the assigned global agribusiness solutions.

Marius Oestreich

About Marius Oestreich

Marius Oestreich is a solution manager at SAP, taking care of the agricultural industry business unit with a focus on the meat and dairy companies. With more than 10 years of experience in solution management for industry specific software applications, he has engaged closely with customers all over the world. Marius provides industry thought leadership and helps companies to thrive with innovative business software.