Pig and dairy farmer’s views about ClearFarm system to assess animal welfare

To better understand the needs and preferences of dairy and pig farmers when using precision livestock technologies to assess animal welfare, ClearFarm carried out a survey with farmers in the Netherlands, Spain and Finland.

Farmers evaluated the opportunities of a ClearFarm system to track and monitor every individual animal and to offer an early warning welfare assessment that assists them to react to threats more rapidly to increase animal welfare and optimise production as important. The possibility to share data with control and certification institutions as well as with companies for business innovation purposes was also considered beneficial.

A key aspect for farmers is the organisation that manages the information of ClearFarm system. Both farming sectors expressed the desire to be well represented in such an organisation.

Though the results point out some heterogeneity in the farmers’ preferences, farmers display relatively small between-country differences in their evaluations of the ClearFarm system. The tracking and monitoring of farm animals is, however, particularly preferred by Spanish pig farmers, whereas Dutch and Finnish pig farmers as well as the dairy farmers do not indicate such a preference. This finding might be explained by the fact that Spanish pig farmers operate in an integrated system in which productivity and process optimisation plays a greater role than in other European production systems.

Moreover, an opportunity to share data with certification and control institutions is slightly more preferred by Finnish farmers. This may be because Finnish farmers are already used to the utilisation of advanced animal health care systems in both farming sectors.

These results provide promising prospects for the development of ClearFarm system that fits the needs of farmers and other stakeholders of the production chain of pig and dairy cattle.