Vetmeduni Vienna: A New International Research Alliance Will Help to Accelerate Technological Development and Innovation in Livestock Husbandry

Vetmeduni announces a collaboration with Zoetis to address new opportunities for improving animal health and welfare by development of real-time monitoring tools

Vetmeduni Vienna announced a new, strategic partnership with Zoetis that aims to accelerate technological development and innovation in livestock husbandry. This new alliance strengthens research on Precision Livestock Farming (PLF) at Vetmeduni Vienna and is a unique partnership worldwide between Zoetis and a new research group called "Precision Livestock Farming Hub" (PLF-Hub).

Against a backdrop of digitalization and emergence of new technologies, Vetmeduni Vienna is fortifying its infrastructure for research and teaching through new investments. Among those is the establishment of a new research group called ‘Precision Livestock Farming Hub’ (PLF-Hub) in June 2019 within the Department for Farm Animals and Veterinary Public Health.

“PLF-Hub aims to foster internal collaboration at the Vetmeduni and with local and international experts in animal health, behaviour, and welfare that are focused on research in the PLF field. The hub’s dual expertise in engineering and algorithm development are particularly unique and present development opportunities in the digitization of animal health and livestock farming.” said Maciej Oczak, coordinator of PLF-Hub, Vetmeduni Vienna. “With Zoetis expertise, we will bolster our research output, increase our visibility, and advance livestock health and welfare. Through our collaboration, we will develop innovative, sensor-based treatment strategies and gain access to commercial partners and farmer customers to apply the results of our research”, explained Otto Doblhoff-Dier, Vice-Rector of Research and International Relations, Vetmeduni Vienna.

What Zoetis expects from this alliance are new and independently validated treatment strategies for PLF systems and PLF tools by an excellent academic partner. “This alliance will provide multiple opportunities for knowledge transfer such as the training of a new generation of students, Zoetis colleagues, and dissemination and outreach activities”, said Theo Kanellos, Director, Commercial and Strategic Alliances, Zoetis. “Additionally, it builds on Zoetis investment in digital and data analytics for the advancement of animal health. As we innovate across the continuum of care, providing solutions to predict, prevent, detect and treat disease, PLF plays an important role.”

Andy Hancock, Outcomes Research, International Centre of Excellence, Zoetis, shared the specific objectives of the first project initiated within the alliance: “The project is focused on using existing datasets generated from SMARTBOW, a precision dairy monitoring technology, to demonstrate the value of this technology in livestock production settings. The main tasks will be to explore associations between animal location and rumination with measures of health and productivity, quantify the economic value of accurate rumination detection and better understand the impact that SMARTBOW can have on production efficiency. Additionally, we will perform exploratory research on supportive sensor technologies, with the objective of automatic classification of animal behaviours using image analysis.”

“This initial project will run for three years, with one PostDoc who will start at Vetmeduni in 2021. However, this is only a beginning. Zoetis and Vetmeduni Vienna intend to expand the scale of collaboration in the coming years and we look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together,” added Dr Michael Iwersen, Clinical Unit for Herd Health Management in Ruminants, Vetmeduni Vienna.

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