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Identify pig health problems earlier with Farmera

19 March 2020, at 12:32pm

FARMERA is a new digital platform where farmers can capture multiple types of on-farm information at one site, like temperature, humidity and pig coughs using sensors in the barn.

Jens Kjaer, senior associate director of Integrated Health Management with Boehringer Ingelheim, speaks to The Pig Site's Sarah Mikesell at AASV in Atlanta

“We are getting away from barn sheets and can capture almost everything real time, so supervisors and production managers have all the information available and at their fingertips,” said Jens Kjaer, senior associate director of Integrated Health Management with Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health .

One of the goals of FARMERA, a new technology platform from Boehringer Ingelheim, is to make data entry as simple as possible and avoid having to enter a lot of data manually into the system.

“We mainly use sensors which automatically populate, however, we don't have any sensors on mortality or treatment yet,” Kjaer said. “We capture all this information by having specific treatment schedules from the barns that we can easily pull up. We can preset the settings so we know how big the pigs are and how many cc’s to give with one click.”

Boehringer Ingelheim is currently in the limited release phase of FARMERA in the United States with the intention of a wider launch in the future. It's being used at about 60 sites and is continuously expanding in an effort to aggregate data and build an algorithm, with the ultimate goal of being able to predict the likelihood of events happening on the farm. FARMERA is being used with more than 450,000 pigs right now.

FARMERA will be launched globally. It started with an incubator group in Germany. Currently, Boehringer Ingelheim is focusing on the US and will be expanding the platform to other countries after 2020.

A significant benefit to farmers is that the programme has built-in alerts, indicating to farmers and veterinarians which barns are having problems. FARMERA uses a light system, similar to a stop light, in the barn that changes colors based on pig health. Green indicates the pigs are healthy. Yellow means vigilance is needed. Red means pigs require an action to be taken.

“When things go wrong, an alert goes off and there's a red light that comes on,” he said. “Instead of driving routinely to a lot of different barns, a farmer or veterinarian can focus on where the problems really are, get there quicker and start interventions earlier.”

FARMERA also works with SoundTalks technology, which uses microphones in barns to capture cough patterns and can recognize potential problems two to five days before the human ear. Farmers get alerted ahead of the curve and can take action earlier.

“We have had people call us and say, ‘It's changing colour; it's going red. Your machinery is not working.’ We tell them to wait two days, and they call back and say, ‘Now they're coughing’, indicating to us that it's working as planned," said Kjaer.