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Video - Big Brother Enters Pig Farms

Farmers and engineers have turned a Spanish pig farm into a big brother camp, where the animals are monitored in every aspect of their life. The aim is to optimize farming methods for the benefit of both the pigs and the farmer. 

Internet Surveillance is often associated with names like Facebook, Google or the NSA, but now also pig farmers have started to use new tools to monitor every aspect of a pig’s life. A whole range of sophisticated technical devices have been installed in a farm in Northern Spain for a pilot study of the European research project “All Smart Pigs”.

When the system is installed in this ordinary pigsty and connected to a computer, several cameras, sound monitors, air quality meters, feed counters and weight sensors deliver a daily report on the status of the individual animals. The system enables farmers to understand better the wellbeing of their pigs and represents a new helpful tool to increase food security. “The animals were in good shape, had less diseases, and this all results in a much better and much tastier meat”, says Manel Serrat microbiologist at the slaughterhouse Mafrica in Sant Joan de Vilatorrada in Spain.

But the challenge is not only to produce a high quality of meat, but also deal with hundreds or thousands of animals. Farmers have less time to observe individuals animals like in the old days. They have become managers and need reliable and affordable technologies which assist them.

As we look forward to a sunny week end with spare rips, grilled sausages or pork chops on the barbeque, we have to recognize that meat production is not what the advertising agencies try to sell us. They are no longer the romantic farmers cuddling with their piglets, but become more and more managers of high-tech agricultural businesses. 

28 April 2014

by Ute de Groot

 

View the video in FrenchItalian and German.

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Programme for research, technological development and demonstration
under grant agreement No 289699

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