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When big data algorithms meet livestock genetics, farmers win big

Farming has never been an easy occupation and it will never appeal to those looking to get money for nothing. But there are changes afoot that will make farming considerably more profitable for those willingly to work at it.

Chief on that list of changes is big data. You’ve no doubt heard of big data being used to increase plant yields on farms. But it’s moving to livestock management too.

Just as big data is now being used to incorporate genetics in precision medicine for humans, so will it also be used to treat livestock more effectively soon. Veterinarians are already beginning to use big data to better diagnose and select medicines that will bring about the best outcome in any given animal. Yes, it’s precision medicine for animals!

The good news is that big data vendors have learned a lot about the pitfalls in non-geneticists using genetic information at the clinical or field level so those mistakes won’t be repeated in farming.

For example, doctors had trouble delivering personalized medicine to humans because they were not geneticists and therefore often misinterpreted the results. To address those problems, new big data tools such as algorithms as a service (AaaS) are coming online to interpret genetic results for non-geneticists like doctors, veterinarians, and farmers.

If big data analytics still sound intimidating or confusing, take heart. Soon you will be able to use big data mobile apps on your phone or tablet that will quickly do all the computations for you and in real-time so you can make more-informed decisions in the field with little more than a few clicks.

You’ll have the means to gather more insights on the likely lifetime health of an animal before you make that all important decision to buy or sell. Big data analytics can even predict the veterinary costs for an animal’s entire life span to help you decide. While it’s true that not everything can be predicted, such as animal injuries on the farm, enough can be to put the odds decidedly in your favor.

Big data will also rapidly analyze feed choices, grazing lands, and even recommend new ways you can increase animal yields. Field mapping and animal tracking will also be part of the data at your fingertips. No more guessing how long grass supplies will last or where the cattle are grazing now.

Watch for these apps to arrive soon and be quick to use them. Consider them money in your pocket and the smartest, most reliable virtual farmhands you’ve ever employed.

When big data algorithms meet livestock genetics, farmers win big

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