Farmscape for November 23, 2022
|Full Interview 6:38||Listen|
The CEO of OPTIfarm expects the adoption of technology on livestock operations to accelerate in response to shortages of labor.
“Is Technology the Answer for Improved Animal Care?” was discussed last week as part of Saskatchewan Pork Industry Symposium 2022 in Saskatoon. David Speller, the CED of OPTIfarm, says we’ve got a real divide between the newer and older facilities and we have a difference around the world depending on labour availability, resources and infrastructure but generally farms are becoming quite sophisticated.
It has been embraced quite well. I think it started from controlling the environments and the companies that were putting computers in to control the air and the temperature and the humidity and it’s moved on now to people starting to ask questions, what happens when I’m not there? Maybe we need to put a camera in? So, I think it’s becoming well embraced for some particular challenges. The reliability actually, when you look at what we’re asking of this technology being on swine or poultry farms or what ever, we ask a lot of it and actually some of it lasts pretty well. So, I think reliability of some things is exceptional and almost overengineered when they engineered it which has proven to be a very good thing. I think, when it comes to usability, there are some fundamental flaws. The focus is on developing the technology to deliver what the technology should do, not so much about the poor person who might have to interact with it.
I think we also have to be mindful that a person who wants to own or operate a livestock farm, whether it’s swine, chickens, what ever it is, has an aptitude to be emotionally attached and care for their animals. That is a different mindset to someone who loves computers and technology and cables and internet so there is a disconnect. That’s not totally the fault of the technology companies.
That’s also because we’re interacting with people that naturally have a desire to be emotionally attached t the animals rather than the technology. Speller anticipates higher levels of adoption of technology as it becomes more advanced and as producers look to centralize their management in the face of labor shortages.
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*Farmscape is produced on behalf of North America’s pork producers