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Precision livestock farming (PLF)

Precision livestock farming (PLF) is a sub-set of digital agriculture and precision farming. The reader is referred to those pages.

At the close of the last century, livestock farming worked with average values per group, largely because of the size of operations. With the aid of technology like software and electronic identification (EID), Precision Livestock Farming (PLF) returns to recognising the individual animal. Cameras, microphones, pathogen sensors and movement sensors all become part of animal management.

  • PLF allows for rapid decision making. Its assessments are accurate.
  • A livestock owner identifies and handles individuals or selected groups better with modern electronic identification.
  • PLF feeding entails giving the precise quantity of correct, high quality supplementary feed at the right time – licks and rations custom-formulated for specific herds/flocks. Together with a proper grazing programme, this can increase meat production and profitability.
  • Computerised handling equipment, electronic ear tags, and electronic crushes and pens lower labour costs.
  • Using electronic identification systems and scales in feedlots can also help identify strugglers in feedlot systems.
Source: Farmer’s Weekly 27 November 2015, pp 26-27 (adapted).


Read about the South African livestock identification and traceability system (LITS) on, website of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD).



For role players involved with the identification, monitoring and tracking of livestock please refer to the “Animal husbandry” page.

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