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  • Writer's pictureFlockFinder Team

We've won funding from Innovate UK 🎉!

FlockFinder - winners of Innovate UK's Smart Grant award.

We're delighted to announce that we've won funding from Innovate UK!

FlockFinder will receive support from Innovate UK's Smart Grant programme to deliver their AI-enabled product roadmap. Specifically, this funding will help to deliver:

An innovative platform that uses ML/AI to analyse farm data and deliver insights to improve farm performance, increasing farm profitability by 5-10%

Who are Innovate UK 🧐

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), is the UK’s innovation agency. They work to create a better future by inspiring, involving and investing in businesses developing life-changing innovations.

With an annual budget of over £1billion they provide businesses with the expertise, facilities and funding they need to test, demonstrate and evolve their ideas, driving UK productivity and economic growth.

You can find out more here:

What the project will deliver 🚀

Faced with increasing costs, regulatory requirements and market pressures, farmers are challenged to rear profitable, high-welfare livestock, in a sustainable manner.

Small and medium sized sheep farmers (the majority in the UK) are struggling to make a profit from their livestock. Furthermore, with the gradual removal of direct-subsidies, 70% of seep farmers’ livelihoods are at risk. Therefore, leveraging technology to improve livestock performance, increase profitability, support farmers livelihoods is crucial to help protect the rural economy and the future of farming in the UK.

The most effective way to improve livestock performance is through effective breeding selection, which has been shown to increase lamb growth by 5-10%, increase ewe productivity by up to 40%, and improve overall profit for sheep farmers by 10%.

Performance improvements through breeding selection are both permanent and cumulative, with the effects compounding over generations to deliver continuous benefits to productivity and profitability.

It also has the added benefit of reducing environmental impacts by up to 30%, improving natural resistance to disease, reducing medical intervention and associated costs while improving animal welfare. 

The analysis required to identify 'high performing' bloodlines is extremely complex, requiring the simultaneous evaluation of multiple traits including, but not limited to, birthing performance, lamb growth and disease resistance. Ideally this analysis would extend to previous generations as well as near relatives (e.g. cousins), in order to create a full picture of lineage, its strengths and weaknesses.

This multi-faceted analysis is extremely complex, time-consuming, and practically impossible to do manually. It is, however, a task that modern advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence are well suited to perform.

The innovation will focus on the application of ML & AI technologies to analyse farm data, assisting with breeding selection and providing insights to the farmer to help them improve livestock performance.

By analysing multiple data points (births, growth, treatments etc.) across the entire flock, and through multiple generations, FlockFinder will be able to highlight trends, hereditary susceptibilities, and other insights that would otherwise go unnoticed. Providing valuable data-driven insights to help identify ‘high performing’ animals and improve farm performance.


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