Precision livestock farming (PLF) is a sub-set of precision agriculture (see previous chapter).
At the close of the last century, livestock farming worked with average values per group, largely because of the size of operations. With the aid of technology like software and electronic identification (EID), Precision Livestock Farming (PLF) returns to recognising the individual animal.
- PLF allows for rapid decision making. Its assessments are accurate.
- A livestock owner identifies and handles individuals or selected groups better with modern electronic identification.
- PLF feeding entails giving the precise quantity of correct, high quality supplementary feed at the right time – licks and rations custom-formulated for specific herds/flocks. Together with a proper grazing programme, this can increase meat production and profitability.
- Computerised handling equipment, electronic ear tags, and electronic crushes and pens lower labour costs.
- Using electronic identification systems and scales in feedlots can also help identify strugglers in feedlot systems.
Source: Farmer’s Weekly 27 November 2015, pp 26-27 (adapted).
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) published a draft document on a livestock identification and traceability system (LITS) in South Africa in February 2018.
- The article “Maak R700 wins per speenkalf - Willemse” on www.landbou.com deals with the profitability of PLF. Among other advantages, PLF makes absolute traceability possible making the purchase of your animals attractive to buyers like feedlots.
- Smith, I.G. (ed.) 2011. Acceptable and Practical Precision Livestock Farming. Halifax: BrightAnimal.
- Banhazi, T.M., Lehr, H., Black, J.L., Crabtree, H., Schofield, P., Tscharke, M. & Berckmans, D. 2012. Precision Livestock Farming: An international review of scientific and commercial aspects. International Journal of Agricultural & Biological Engineering (5)3. Available at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/265941729_PRECISION_LIVESTOCK_FARMING_SCIENTIFIC_CONCEPTS_AND_COMMERCIAL_REALITY
For role players involved with the identification, monitoring and tracking of livestock please refer to the “Animal husbandry” chapter.