Precision Agriculture in Animal Production
Like crop production, animal production economics exhibits small profit margins. This makes the growth, development, reproduction, and well-being of each animal critically important for a profitable enterprise. Current technologies allow producers to monitor individual animal feed consumption, feedlot movement, temperature, lameness, milk production, meat composition and quality, and weight gain—often without any human intervention or presence.
Based on various dairy milk characteristics, it is also possible to estimate the likelihood of estrus or disease. With environmental concerns surrounding large feeding operations, frequent or continuous air and water monitoring are also becoming important. This involves not only data collection, but also data analysis and possible particulate dispersion modeling or hydrologic modeling.
While animal tagging has been commonplace for decades, it is now possible to attach electronic tags that can measure and record animal condition, such as temperature or heart rate. Elevated temperature can signal estrus onset or a possible disease condition. Electronic tags can also be used for identification and marketing purposes.
Many feeding, measuring, and monitoring systems have been developed or proposed for aquacultural applications. Investments in animal care and feeding during the course of each animal's production life are significant. New tools and technologies can help producers capture a return on that investment.