Precision Livestock Farming Virtual Field Day

October 7, 2020 10 a.m. - Noon

Contact: Janice Siegford , Madonna Benjamin , Juan Steibel , David Thompson

This virtual field day will highlight new technologies in Precision Livestock Farming either in development or recently launched.  A key unifying theme will be how these technologies can benefit both farm economics and animal well-being. 

The session will feature experts from MSU, MSU Extension, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and KU Leuven, this virtual field day with consist of an interactive and responsive program that will include video, conversation and questions and answers. 

The program will speak directly to diverse members of the animal health and performance community, including livestock producers, nutritionists, geneticists, researchers in animal science, veterinarians, engineers working in agriculture, the animal well-being community and students interested in these fields.

“We are excited to offer unique insight into PLF technology that is not typically possible with an in-person field day,” said David Thompson, MSU Extension Livestock Educator. “In this virtual format, we are able to gather some of the best minds in PLF from around the world.”

The program will feature:

An Introduction to Precision Livestock Farming (PLF)

Janice Siegford, a professor in Animal Science at MSU and Madonna Benjamin, an assistant professor and swine Extension veterinarian in Large Animal Clinical Sciences at MSU will share their more than 20 years of experience in using technology to monitor animals. They will provide an overview of what PLF technology is, covering the types of technologies that can be used in animal systems and what things can be measured. They will discuss the problems PLF could help solve on farm and some of the challenges that might exist when trying to adopt PLF.

For more information about Dr. Siegford visit:

For more information about Dr. Benjamin visit:


In livestock operations, systematically monitoring animal body weight, biometric body measurements, animal behavior, feed bunk, and other complex phenotypes is unfeasible due to labor, costs, and animal stress. Applications of computer vision are growing in importance in livestock systems due to their ability to generate real-time, non-invasive, and accurate animal-level information. Such technology has emerged as a powerful tool to predict animal identification, body weight, biometric measurements, behavioral traits, and feed bunk score. However, the development of a computer vision system requires sophisticated statistical and computational approaches for efficient data management and appropriate data mining, as it involves massive datasets.

Joao Dorea is an Assistant Professor in Precision Agriculture and Data Analytics for the University of Wisconsin will provide an overview of how computer vision systems can be an effective tool to integrate animal-level information and create predictive modeling for precise management decisions in dairy farms.

For more information about Dr. Joao Dorea visit:


Tami Brown-Brandl, a professor and the Dr. William E. and Eleanor L Splinter Chair at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Benjamin, will share their knowledge on the swine industry’s adoption of PLF. They will address success stories in feeding/watering systems, as well as recent introductions to reduce piglet mortality in farrowing operations (sound and electrical stimulation). They will highlight emerging approaches designed to address key production challenges including diseases detection and aggression in grow/finisher facilities (tail biting, fighting) and farrowing facilities (aggression in group housed sows, lameness and body condition issues). In addition, they will present the challenges with implementation and success of these technologies.

For more information about Dr. Tami Brown-Brandl visit:


Tomas Norton is currently a tenure track assistant professor, in the Division of Animal and Human and Health Engineering at the KU Leuven in Belgium. He will cover the latest developments around PLF in the poultry sector by going through some of the challenges in taking this technology from the lab to the farm, while also covering how we can unlock great potential on off the shelf sensors to create a “cost-effective” data-driven approach to poultry farming. With strong background knowledge in PLF applications, he will focus on real-time modelling and control of animal bio-responses.

For more information about Dr. Tomas Norton visit:

Future directions of PLF

PLF technologies generate enormous amounts of raw data that are usually distilled and summarized into a small set of processed data (indicators or flags) that are easily used for implementing management decisions. Juan Steibel an associate professor at MSU will address possible uses of raw and pre-processed data streams obtained from PLF technologies for non-management applications in the livestock industry. In particular, he will discuss the use of PLF data streams for: 1) making selection decisions for genetic improvement, 2) assessing welfare at the individual and at the group level and 3) for on-farm product/technology testing. For each case he will compare the current state of data collection and use with the perspectives for using PLF data streams and how that has the potential of transforming the livestock industry beyond facilitating management.  

For more information about Dr. Steibel visit:


Tags: beef cattle, cow dairy, dairy, dairy health, dairy management, dairy nutrition, dairy reproduction, msu extension, poultry, precision livestock farming, sheep & goats, swine, virtual, virtual field days

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