Mobile apps for improving record keeping in the Kenyan Pig Industry - antibiotic use and pig performance

Lead Research Organisation: University of Liverpool
Department Name: Institute of Infection and Global Health

Abstract

Record-keeping in livestock production brings considerable benefits for animal health, aiding early detection of disease and management problems. Whilst it is normally an integral part of any large farming operation, small producers rarely have the training or tools available to them to keep records, or where they do, they cannot always then use these in decision making. In low-income countries, the first response to any livestock health problem that occurs is often for the farmer to administer antibiotics, as they are readily available from drug stores without prescription. Unsupervised and unrecorded sales makes it extremely difficult to monitor the use of drugs critical for human health, and antibiotics are often sold and used inappropriately, contributing to growing levels of antibacterial resistance (ABR). Even where antibiotic use in livestock is supervised by trained veterinary professionals, drug selection can still be irrational, and there are no means of reporting suspect non-response to treatment, which can be an early indication of ABR. The problem is compounded by the lack of diagnostic facilities, meaning it is often impossible for farms to identify the cause of disease in their livestock and select the most appropriate treatment or management intervention. This issue is particularly acute in the pig and poultry sectors, which have very few specialists available, compared to the veterinary provision for the ruminant sector.
Excellent recording systems exist for industrial pig producers, but require considerable investment; the aim of this project is to develop a mobile app for smartphones, suitable for use by small-to medium size farms in East Africa (defined as average annual production of 100 pigs per year), where farmers are investing to move from small holder to market oriented production to meet increasing demand for animal source foods. Features will include a system for recording growth rates and piglet mortality, changes in which may be indicators of a disease problem. It will also record antibiotics being administered, with automated warnings for the user when a potentially unsuitable drug is selected (for example, when a pig is too close to its slaughter weight for certain types of antibiotic to be used because of residues in the meat). The app will incorporate a feedback system so that farmers can see how they are doing in comparison to others in their local area, plus manuals with guidance on good management and possible health problems.
The initial development of the app will be undertaken in partnership with a commercial pig production company that works with a large number of small scale contract farmers: Aggregated reports will be developed for the company vets to allow monitoring of compliance with protocols, suspected non-response to treatment or excessive use of antimicrobials, which may highlight problems requiring investigation. This can also be integrated with observations of disease signs in pigs slaughtered at the company's abattoir, to provide disease surveillance reports highlighting possible hotspots of disease or drug resistance. A second mobile app, to be used by meat inspectors, will be developed or modified from an existing app already in use by our research group to collect abattoir data.
Integration of data across the different arms of the company (own farms, abattoirs, small scale contractors) will be a key feature of this project. Linking contract farms more closely with the company will allow farmers to request advice or investigation of problems by the company's outreach teams, and allow centralised vets to monitor and respond more quickly to problems in the community.
Apps will be evaluated with a group of 50 small-to-medium contractors for ease of use, perceived benefits and cost-effectiveness. Depending on the cost-benefit, the final stage to the project will be to investigate options to roll out apps to small producers across Kenya and potentially the wider region.

Technical Summary

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Planned Impact

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Publications

10 25 50
 
Description We have explored pig value chains in Kenya and the role of key vertically integrated companies in driving the market opportunities within these chains. We have held workshops with key stakeholders in the pig industry and have used the outcomes of these to develop a data collection tool to monitor the use of drugs and other health paramters, and to provide farmerrs with a better means of managing their pig farms through information provision.
Exploitation Route We continue to refine this work to lead to our desired end product within the course of the next year.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Electronics

 
Description We have undertaken extensive work with pig farmers and with integrated pig processing companies, and have better understood their needs visa-vi other stakeholders such at the veterinary services. Relationships have improved between these stakeholders as a result of our ongoing work. Better tracking of antimicrobial drug us in pigs is under way.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink
Impact Types Societal

 
Description CGIAR AMR Hub
Amount $500,000 (USD)
Funding ID A4NH CGIAR AMR Hub 
Organisation International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country Kenya
Start 02/2019 
End 02/2022
 
Description Barefoot Lighting 
Organisation Barefoot Lightening
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We have provided data and expertise to the company, subcontracted on the project, to develop a digital data collection tool
Collaborator Contribution The company have provided a custom made android app interface for data collection
Impact None yet other than protypes which are about to go for pilot testing int he field
Start Year 2018
 
Description Farmers Choice 
Organisation Farmer's Choice Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Provision of data and the design of a data capture system for the farms
Collaborator Contribution Close collaborative relationship in understanding the pig industry in Kenya; provision of manpower and access to on farm resources.
Impact A handheld data collection system developed by a commercial partner
Start Year 2018