Innovative use of emerging technologies to improve pig production efficiency

Innovative use of emerging technologies to improve pig production efficiency

Name of organisation/business: 
Wholesome Pigs (Scotland) Ltd
Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Scheme: £390,696
Scottish Rural Development Programme priority: 
Supporting agricultural and forestry businesses
Contact details: 
Andy McGowan Email:




What are the aims of your project?

To improve the efficiency and sustainability of the Scottish pig supply chain through control or elimination of production-limiting diseases by the innovative application of emerging technology to actively drive management changes on farm through a knowledge exchange network.

How will your project achieve these aims?

Existing datasets containing pig health and performance information are being integrated, which will enable tailored analysis to be carried out for each pig herd. A dynamic health mapping system is also being established to inform industry-wide decision making and collaborative action. These outputs are being disseminated through a new knowledge transfer and exchange network for all Scottish pig producers and their vets.

Who is involved?

Wholesome Pigs (Scotland) (WPS) is a not-for-profit company set up to delivery a range of pig health activities on behalf of Scottish farmers, such as carcase health examinations and salmonella monitoring. We are working on this project with with the Epidemiology Research Unit at Scotland's Rural College (SRUC), the marketing cooperative Scottish Pig Producers (SPP) and levy body Quality Meat Scotland (QMS). The key people are Gordon McKen (WPS), Carla Gomes and colleagues (SRUC) and Andy McGowan (SPP).

How is the project funded?

Pig farmers pay an annual membership fee to WPS and additional income comes from QMS levy funding and other private sources. This project is 100 percent funded by the Knowledge Transfer and Innovation scheme.

Where did you go for help and advice?

Individual team members have extensive experience of project planning and so no outside help was used.

What has been your greatest achievement so far?

Almost all Scottish pig farmers have now signed data sharing agreements with WPS that will enable their health information to be shared with other farmers. Given the sensitivity of this information, this shows an unprecendented level of trust and confidence in the work of WPS and our future aspirations to eliminate important pig diseases from Scotland.

And the biggest challenge?

Enthusing vets to engage in this project when they only have one or two pig clients has been difficult.

What’s next for the project?

The Development Phase will finish in summer 2017, after which we can push on with using the system in reality to benefit the Scottish pig industry.