Cattle industry project to streamline data exchange

Published 31 March 15

A £282,000 project to develop a prototype system for the exchange of cattle information across the supply chain has been given the green-light by Agri-tech Catalyst.

The Agri-tech Catalyst is run jointly by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, and Research Councils. The successful bid for the 12-month feasibility project is being co-ordinated and project managed by the beef and dairy divisions of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).

This system could effectively work as a search engine to facilitate data exchange between Government, industry and private databases, so that key information can be brought together and presented through a single portal, for example at auction markets.

The livestock industry data exchange hub could also, for the first time, provide the cattle industry with a facility to underpin risk-based trading for economically important diseases such bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD), Johnes disease and bovine TB (bTB). While the initial focus is on animal disease, it is envisaged that the framework developed can be expanded to other areas of data collection, which will greatly benefit the industry.

AHDB is working with over 20 industry collaborators including industry databases, farm management software suppliers, auction market and abattoir system providers. Within the consortium, Shearwell Data Ltd will have primary responsibility to deliver the final technical specification, to be agreed by an industry project steering group. The steering group includes National Farmers Union (NFU), AHDB (EBLEX and DairyCo), Livestock Auctioneers’ Association (LAA), British Meat Processors’ Association (BMPA), British Cattle Veterinary Association (BCVA) and Cattle Health and Welfare Group (CHAWG).

Norfolk farmer John Cross, who is chairing the project steering group, said: “This is a really exciting opportunity, where industry itself has taken the initiative to develop what has been needed for a very long time. It has the potential to increase operating efficiency, reduce farmer cost and increase our capacity to control economically important diseases.

“All the information relating to each animal is out there – but it’s sitting in different locations. Making this information more available at key points will be a significant step forward. Creating industry-agreed data exchange protocols will standardise the transfer of information in a pre-competitive way. This will mean that all commercial operators can benefit and enhance the service they offer to their clients. At this stage, the aim is proof of concept, and we welcome discussion with all interested parties as the specification is developed.

“We’re delighted that Agri-Tech has recognised the importance of this project and invested in this feasibility study.”

Further details of successful AHDB bids for Agri-tech Catalyst funding will follow.