Preprint Review Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

The Significance and Ethics of Digital Livestock Farming

Version 1 : Received: 23 February 2023 / Approved: 27 February 2023 / Online: 27 February 2023 (10:16:27 CET)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Neethirajan, S. The Significance and Ethics of Digital Livestock Farming. AgriEngineering 2023, 5, 488–505, doi:10.3390/agriengineering5010032. Neethirajan, S. The Significance and Ethics of Digital Livestock Farming. AgriEngineering 2023, 5, 488–505, doi:10.3390/agriengineering5010032.


The emergence of precision and digital livestock farming presents an opportunity for sustainable animal farming practices that enhance animal welfare and health. However, this transformation of modern animal farming through digital technology has several implications for the technological, social, economic, and environmental aspects of farming. It is crucial to analyze the ethical considerations associated with the digitalization of modern animal farming, particularly in the context of human-animal relationships and potential objectification. This analysis can help develop frameworks for improving animal welfare and promoting sustainability in animal farming.One of the primary ethical concerns of digital livestock farming is the potential for a digital divide between farmers who have access to advanced technologies and those who do not. This could lead to a disparity in animal welfare and health outcomes for different groups of animals. Additionally, the use of artificial intelligence in digital livestock farming may lead to a loss of personal connection between farmers and animals, which could impact the animal's well-being. Another ethical concern of digital livestock farming is the potential for objectification of animals as mere data points. The use of sensors and other monitoring technologies can provide valuable data on animal health and behavior, but it is important to remember that animals are sentient beings with complex emotional and social needs. The use of digital technologies should not lead to neglect of animal welfare or a lack of human responsibility towards animals.Furthermore, social context becomes essential while integrating technologies in the livestock farming to overcome ethics. By considering the cultural and societal norms of different communities, we can ensure that the use of digital technologies does not undermine these values. To address these ethical challenges, the development of standards and codes of conduct for the adoption and implementation of digital livestock farming tools and platforms can help ensure that animal welfare and sustainability are prioritized. This can help alleviate the privacy concerns of stakeholders and improve sustainability in animal farming practices. Additionally, the use of virtual and augmented reality technologies can provide a way to enhance human-animal interactions and provide more personalized care to animals, further promoting animal welfare.


Precision livestock farming; Digital livestock farming; Smart farming; Societal impacts; Data ownership; Open access; Sustainability; Animal ethics; Digital divide; Digital agriculture


Biology and Life Sciences, Agricultural Science and Agronomy

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