The “4D” Revolution in Livestock Production:

The Advent of Precision Livestock Farming (PLF) through a Synthesis of Diagnostics, Devices, Digital Platforms and Data Analytics

“The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it.” Mark Weiser1

The “4D” Revolution in Livestock Production: A Context

How livestock production, health and welfare are done will radically change over the next decade. To be clear – the timeless goals of producers, veterinarians and others engaging the value chain of livestock and protein production will remain virtually the same – business profitability, accountability to consumers and a shared responsibility for the care and welfare of the animals will continue to be our collective aim. What will radically change, however, will be both the means by which these goals are pursued/achieved, and the mindset of us all towards adopting and adapting new ways to pursue and achieve them.

The same basic conditions and drivers that are now changing how all people on earth live and work will profoundly change how all of us in livestock and protein production conduct our businesses and pursue our shared purpose – to sustainably and responsibly provide the world with a safe, nutritious, continuously available and affordable supply of animal-based protein. These conditions and drivers will inseparably be technology, customer experience and value-driven, and will fundamentally change how we do business with each other and our mutually served markets.

A 2014 report from Frost and Sullivan2 looking out to 2025 identified 12 megatrends and 10 transformational shifts that are profoundly impacting how businesses will serve changing global societies and cultures. It is several of these same megatrends and transformational shifts that will impact (and are now already impacting) all livestock and protein production industries – in particular:

Megatrends and Transformational Shifts

• Connectivity and Convergence – There are two main aspects to connectivity – that which is technological and that which is strategic (and leads to convergence).

• Technological connectivity: Humanity is rapidly approaching a time where everyone and everything will be connected everywhere all the time. The increasing speed and expanding bandwidth afforded by fibre-optic networks and 5G wireless networks will enable an entirely new level of within- and between-business connectivity, communication and data-handling capacity – particularly as the costs of these new technologies reduce over time. With the broad penetration of IoT-targeted low-cost LPWAN (low-power wide area network) technologies like NB-IoT, LTE-M, LoRa, SigFox and Weightless; sensor networks will become ubiquitous.

• Strategic connectivity: Aided in part by advancements in technological connectivity, companies in unrelated industries are converging on new opportunity space to identify, explore, develop and synthesise multiple technologies and platforms. To capitalise on new opportunity space, companies from unrelated industries are forming strategic partnerships to leverage their respective core technologies by integrating them into something entirely new – interdependent business ecosystems.