Belgian Pork Group, a network of Belgian companies in the pork sector, has introduced AI (artificial intelligence) into its animal welfare system, becoming the first Belgian organisation to use AI to place greater emphasis on this issue. "Animal welfare has always been important to Belgian Pork Group. That's why we are taking this step towards innovative solutions that better support our experts," says Vincent Stillatus, Quality Director at Belgian Pork Group. The introduction of the AI pilot at the Westvlees site is already regarded as a success. Belgian Pork Group is now working on expanding the project, both at this site and others. The company is convinced that this use of AI technology will eventually be rolled out across the entire sector.
Belgian Pork Group has taken another step towards guaranteeing its animal welfare quality standards, by incorporating AI into the existing monitoring system at the Westrozebeke site. The company has become the first in Belgium to use AI to continuously monitor the behaviour and treatment of pigs.
Artificial intelligence in the control room.
For several years, Belgian Pork Group has placed great importance on animal welfare. This stems not only from the conviction that animal suffering must be avoided, but also the awareness that animal stress and distress negatively impacts meat quality. The company already has several active control systems that use video images to monitor animal welfare. Now, with this new use of AI, a further step has been taken.
The camera system continuously monitors all animals brought onto the site and ensures they are treated appropriately. These images are then assessed by Belgian Pork Group's animal welfare experts (animal protection officers). Following this, the feedback from these experts is used to further train the AI models.
By automating the video image monitoring, checks are carried out more efficiently and effectively. Animal protection officers can quickly detect any anomalies, enabling the company to intervene rapidly, provide training and monitor how situations evolve.
A strong partnership
This AI pilot forms part of the Taste & Welfare programme that the company has been promoting since 2016. The programme brings together a number of (innovative) projects that seek to make improvements for people, animals, the planet and, of course, the product. Belgian Pork Group aspires to perfect this new system and subsequently roll it out at other production sites.