Covering many key health issues facing UK livestock today, looking at welfare issues and how data analysis can help, CIEL’s Animal Health Specialist Grace O’Gorman explores the main themes highlighted in her recent Member webinar.
Music by AudioCoffee from Pixabay
Helen Brookes 0:02
Hello and welcome to this CIEL insights podcast with me Helen Brooks, I'm one of the Business Development Managers here at CIEL and I'm really pleased to be bringing you this data discussions podcast. Keep watching out for all the other podcasts in this series and a number of blogs from a range of CIEL Member contributors in this podcast.
Today, I'm going to be speaking toDr Grace O'Gorman, CIEL's very own Animal Health Specialist. We'll be discussing some of the over-arching themes that came out from the CIEL Insights, health and welfare webinar. The full webinars can of course be found on the CIEL Member area of the website, so make sure you go and have a look at that. So firstly, welcome Grace. Grace, can you just give us an overview of yourself, please?
Dr Grace O'Gorman 0:44
Hi Helen, Thank you very much. I'm Grace O'Gorman, the Animal Health Specialist working at CIEL.
Really looking forward to working with our Membership and partners and increasing our critical mass and focus around a range of animal health and welfare topics. So we'll have some exciting new initiatives towards the end of this year and really looking forward to getting stuck in.
Helen Brookes 1:09
Brilliant, thanks Grace. So the recent health and welfare webinar was entitled key issues facing UK livestock. Can you first give us and everyone listening an overview of the webinar. In terms of who presented in it, the general topics, what was presented and some discussion points?
Dr Grace O'Gorman 1:29
We had a great mix of six different professors & researchers working across the UK, both in the ruminant and the monogastric sectors, and we really challenged them to pin down what their key top animal health and welfare issues were for UK livestock. What we had back from each of them was really interesting.
We heard Professor Martin Green from University of Nottingham speaking about dairy respiratory disease, and lameness, two really critical topics in the dairy sector. He also challenged us to look at resilient farming systems as well.
Then we had Richard Mole from the Moredun Institute, and he really focused on looking at the challenges around parasite control for sheep and data came out as a theme there as well to inform better decision making.
We had Amy Jennings from the Universty of Edinburgh. Amy spoke about some really interesting projects that she carried out on-farm that really tried to drive home the importance of collecting data and improve youngstock which was really interesting to hear.
From the Royal Vet College, we had Steven Van Vinden, who really challenged us to look at taking a prevention is better than cure approach. So looking at antimicrobials, which of course are always topical, but also range of other infectious diseases and thinking about how the role of the vet and how data might improve our approach in that sense.
Professor Alastair cook from surrey, and gave a really interesting topic about the health and welfare of pigs. He explained about the digital revolution that is underway and some very interesting projects that they are currently underway. Finally, we had Sarah Lambton from Bristol University who gave a great talk on the key issues, health issues for poultry, and not only health but of course welfare and linking that into some of the challenges around climate change and what we need to think about going forward with different production systems in poultry.
Helen Brookes 3:39
Oh, that's a great overview. It sounds like there was some similar themes that were coming out from the presenters, but also some really sector specific sort of areas of consideration that that needed to, and were discussed. Can you maybe elaborate on what some of these were?
Dr Grace O'Gorman 3:55
I think across all of the sectors there was a really strong emphasis on the need to capture Data and she use it well. By use it well I mean to translate Insert into effective actions on-farm.
For some farms, if we look at, for example, extensive sheet production, it could be about just starting to gather quite useful data and realising the value in that and I think it was Amy who described it as making technology pay, and that's been really important as a driver in those systems. As I mentioned about this digital revolution, and looking at some of the more intensive sectors, so pigs was the example provided, but could also look at poultry, and dairy systems. It's about looking forward and predicting what might happen, monitoring both beforehand, but also in response to treatments and really detecting pathogens that are causative agents so that we can really move towards precision medicine.
I think perhaps the message, the clear message that came through all our presenters was, regardless of how much technology is involved, that we include in there, the underlying data itself is really powerful. By powerful, I mean, it can really inform decision making, which is becoming increasingly important, this informed decision making in an ever more complex and challenging farming systems that we're operating in.
Helen Brookes 5:23
So data and it's use has come up quite a bit there. And you started to mention some of the gaps and the challenges. How were these potentially raised in the the presentations and the questions that that came after?
Dr Grace O'Gorman 5:36
Well, there was certainly some straightforward gaps just in terms of what we're collecting on farm and understanding the best sources of data that we should be collecting, and that can include all farm data as well, such as Avatar data, so there's certainly huge value in integrating that. But the challenges are quite wide ranging.
I think it was Alistair Cook, who neatly described it in individual titles around for example, governance, this is probably one that most people will have grappled with what are the rules and regulations about who sees my data sharing? That's the real challenge that that we're all dealing with but there's also the kit itself so the tool set so looking at AI machine learning and the various technologies that are underway but then there's the people element so the skill set so what are abilities or on-farm and with vets to use this information in a real a beneficial way and finally but by no means least there is the mindset so it's certainly about much more than just using
technology and as it was described it's certainly the mindset, not just the skills So there's clearly more that we need to do there.
It's one element of that could be just ensuring we've got really good feedback loops so that farmers really realise the benefits of getting involved and using data to drive decision making on farm. But there's certainly a barrier recognised barrier there for many in terms of the fear of approaching data and technology and using it. And there's a role for all of us in the industry, I think, to help build ways in which we can trust and value that data.
Helen Brookes 7:19
So thinking about these innovative data solutions that are coming up the new tools and new software, how are these often received by farmers and and when it's often said, you know, farmers need to upskill to enable them to to use this new tech or use this new software? Is it just the skills that are really needed? Or is it actually that we need to develop some of this new technology to better fit with farmers needs and how they think thinking about the mindset that you've just said?
Dr Grace O'Gorman 7:52
I think it's well recognised that buying kit is one thing, and using it is quite another. So there's the hurdle of adoption. We see that in all walks of life. It's not unique to the farming community. But having said that, I think this responsibility is not just down to farmers. I think that's a really important role here as well. So the challenge lies on both sides and working together to to upscale if you like, in terms of what's needed.
Thinking about what's practical on farm user design, and people that develop products, and some of our Members will know this really, really well is incredibly important so that that solution that's developed for farmers works in a way that's intuitive and actually really does help inform their decision making.
Helen Brookes 8:42
That's a really good point but each farm is very much an individual, individual systems individual contracts individual species. How can tools from from a whole industry wide become bespoke to an individual farmer and how they use it.
Dr Grace O'Gorman 9:04
A really good question Helen. It's a naturally there is no two farms alike. At any one point in time they'll be different even when we benchmark similar systems but the tools that we have available and that are being developed and need to be in a position where their very existence means under capturing data that's good. We need to be very varied but there still allowing the delivery of tailored outputs. So whatever data they collect, whether it's farm A or farm B, and what comes out of that really isn't analysis based on that individual farm.
So therefore, the solutions in terms of outputs will be bespoke to those farms. That's where having farmers and vets working together I think can help that translation piece. A good example of some of those industry wide tools which are available and were developed University of Nottingham. So they will be applicable to a wide range of farms. And yet they'll deliver, you know, something that's bespoke in terms of the outputs of that of those tools.
So it's really, really important. So, again, comes down to the ability of those tools to really help farmers make good decisions.
Helen Brookes 10:17
You mentioned a little bit ago about vets and the use of vets. What about including vets, the wider team as I would put it thinking about how health and welfare and how farmers can use vets and and other advisors to really sort of drive that this day to use decision use predicting monitoring, and even detecting, you know, for for health and welfare or their livestock.
Dr Grace O'Gorman 10:47
Yeah, so there's lots of people involved in managing the health and welfare of animals on-farm. If we look at the obvious ones, in terms of farmers are managers themselves and their vets, but also ramazan, sq, peas and nutritionists.
I think this offers us a unique opportunity to work collaboratively in a way that offers maximum benefit to the farmer. All of the challenges on farm needs to be looked at holistically. So bringing that data together in a way that informs decision making, I think, is key. So I would see it as okay, it's a challenge. How do we do that really, practically on farm?
It's not easy, but actually we have a lot more to gain by doing it. So I think it's it's a valuable approach to think about going forward is how we can collectively use data across the firm.
Helen Brookes 11:39
Fantastic and for anybody listening what can they look forward to from CIEL in terms of what's next in our health and welfare offering over the next few months?
Dr Grace O'Gorman 11:51
Sure. We're working on a number of different projects. One in particular is The Open Innovation Group on animal health and will very much look forward to hearing about what your priorities are in terms of animal health and welfare and this really helps us to drive forward new AI ideas and innovations for some of the key Grand Challenges that still exists for animal health and welfare across the UK.
Helen Brookes 12:15
Brilliant. So I think the key messages that I've taken from from what Grace has said is really thinking about, we are in a digital revolution. It's about how we use that to move forward, how we use it to move our research or our industry objectives in our farm performance and everything. How do we use that to move forward? And the power of data really is in driving decision making on farm?
I think for me, it's not the first time I think we've heard it, it certainly came out in the webinar. It's certainly come out in this podcast. As Grace said, we really do value your feedback.
So any thoughts you've got on this, you know, please do get in contact either with your business development manager, or your CIEL contact and we look forward to hearing from you.
So also, please just remember to follow CIEL on Twitter and LinkedIn or check out Cielivestock.co.uk. For more CIEL insights on data, we will be releasing from this week onwards, a number of podcasts, blogs, and then we've got the CIEL Member exclusive webinar on the fourth of October.
So please try and come to that if you can, but from me and from Grace, thanks for listening and goodbye.