Sensors & Welfare: is this the future?

Author: Janine Roemen (ZLTO) - July 10, 2017

The director of the Dutch animal protection organization, Femke-Fleur Lampkamp, presented a short session at the Aeres University about sensor technology and animal welfare, in which she stated that sensors can monitor the behavior, health, growth and heat of the animal on individual level. Therefore, changes in these paramters can be identified earlier and underlying diseases can be treated sooner (or maybe even prevented). Also, general knowledge about the animals and their behavior increases through data collection, analysis and exchange.

The risks of using sensor technology, according to the organization, are the objectification of animals, more animals per caretaker, and the risk of farmers relying solely on data and thereby losing good stockmanship. The main message was that sensor technology will help the farmer to manage animals on individual level but that this data can never be a replacement of good stockmanship. It can only be used to support management.

The most important skills and knowledge that a farmer needs to have, besides sensor technology, are observation and intuition skills, involvement in the subject of animal welfare, recognizing cow and herd behavior, recognizing injuries as lameness or bad skin, recognize smells and sounds that indicate different behaviors and provide positive attention to the cows. It is essential that a farmers has this knowledge to be able to get advantages from the sensors.

The logo of the Animal Protection Organization.