Published on Feb. 1, 2022
Enabling supply chain optimization: from farm to fork
What does the future of swine farming look like? Farmers and agriculture companies alike are wondering what the future holds. With increasing economic, societal, and environmental pressure facing swine producers, it is more important than ever to explore ways to be more sustainable in all three of these pathways. This creates a well-rounded approach that not only benefits the animals and planet but also continues to increase profits for producers.
Surviving the constant price pressure
Over the past few decades, the farmers’ drive was to survive the constant low-price, low-margin challenge. The farmer had little option than to choose for intensifying and upscaling their farm or specializing in niche type products, like meat quality concepts or organic farming. Most farmers chose for intensifying and upscaling. By choosing this direction, they had the critical mass to invest in new technologies and continue their business towards the future. If we look at the same challenge today but with the new perspective of sustainable animal production, we could also opt for focusing on predictability of pork production which will lead to improved supply chain management and will reduce the cost of system failures.
Precision farming: shift from intensification to predictability
With more automated ways of gathering, processing, and analyzing data and new non-invasive technologies that are available for pork production, combined with the right knowledge and skills we are moving towards precision pork production. The growing number of tools designed to support decision-making in farms will enable us to find the flaws of nutrition, farm management, housing, targeted animal care and so on, and of course, the possible ways of fixing them. All the data can be used to enhance the predictability of multiple traits for individual pigs and groups of pigs. The predictability of traits can be used for animal breeding and for pork production to improve supply chain management. More uniform products and higher survivability of pigs enable swine producers to steer production based on market demands and adapt in time when needed.
For us, as a breeding company, we are closely involved in developing methods for precision phenotyping, utilizing new technologies that enable tracking of individuals using combinations of sensors. This allows us to use group housing in our nucleus breeding centers and results into more accurate phenotyping. The combination of precision feeding, health care, housing, management, and precision breeding will advance today’s pork production from farm to fork towards a more sustainable sector.
Create added value with precision breeding
Precision farming will deliver the right direction for precision breeding as pig farms will digitalize and deliver insights in how the environment affects the genetic potential of animals. New technology will capture behavior of animals. Infra-red measurements and climate conditions will give insights in the predictability of our breeds. With increasing knowledge, and in close collaboration with producers we can manage the conditions to create the right environment to increase the value of pork production. Predictability will lead to a focus on more added value and health and welfare of products, producers, processors, and consumers.