So far, Big Data has had little impact on agricultural animal husbandry. This project examines ways of making pig farming in Switzerland more efficient and improving animal welfare by using animal health data.

Lay summary

Large data volumes can no longer be analysed using conventional methods; they have to be made usable by applying new methods. So far, such methods have not had any impact on animal husbandry even though they would be of great interest for pig farming in Switzerland in particular. Swiss pig production differs from the intensive production systems used in other European countries because of its complex, small-scale structure. Although all stages of production generate animal health data, it is not being used in a way that brings together all the various stages. If this information is suitably prepared and analysed, it will be possible to recognise new links, causes and risk factors in relation to diseases and/or a drop in performance – and to identify the best strategies for combating them.

The project will develop new methods aimed at gaining a better understanding of, and optimising, the structure and complexity of the pig farming and production network in Switzerland. This will not only utilise existing data but also tap into potential sources of new data – in order to improve animal health, boost animal welfare and make pig production more sustainable.

The results of this project will enable livestock owners and veterinary surgeons to take steps to improve animal health and prevent disease in their pig farming operations. Optimised production processes will lead to greater efficiency, sustainability and value creation in Swiss animal production. Ultimately, end users will also benefit from improvements in animal health, reduced antibiotic use and the resulting foodstuffs. We would also like to make the prototype of the Pig Data Space accessible to marketing organisations, veterinary surgeons and farmers, so that they can make beneficial use of the system to help them with future questions and decisions.