It is all about the (big) data

It is all about the (big) data

Data is the new gold. Gold diggers aren’t going to the Klondike anymore, they dig into data; big data. 

Big data is a term used in IT. This data comes from everywhere: sensors that gather climate information, posts to social media sites, digital images and videos, purchase transaction records, and cell phone GPS signals to name a few.

Big data has been implemented for a long time in animal sciences. Large amounts of data from different recording systems combined with quantitative genetics have been one of the success stories of animal breeding in the last decades. Pedigree records, artificial insemination, measurable traits during the animal’s productive lifespan provide data that is perfect for quantitative analysis. In addition, more complex methods for collecting phenotypes are emerging, producing even more complex data (signals, image and video processing, etc.). Molecular genetics has also made progress for genomic selection, making selection based on DNA-level possible. 

Long tradition of handling data 

In Norsvin, big data has been the foundation of the development of all Norsvin’s lines and products. Data has been gathered from sheets, tablets, signals, images and log files to name a few since the startup of Norsvin in the late 1950s. 

The genetic program put a lot of focus on big data, from pedigree records, paternity testing, on-farm testing, reproductive performance, survival, production and performance data, carcass dissection and meat quality evaluations and intensive testing. Data is also being produced by a number of different sources, from manual recordings of exteriors to full body volume scans using computed tomography (CT). 

The span in modalities from manual recordings to complex imaging systems requires a robust and versatile data collecting system to bring these data types together. Norsvin’s investment in supporting IT systems has been crucial to enable the use of big data efficiently. Quality control is the key - a tremendous task in a big data system requiring a tech support department. Automatic and manual routines are very important to ensure the best quality of data from our system. 

Norsvin’s ambition is: utilizing data to develop the best possible animal in terms of productivity, efficiency, meat quality and robustness to bring value to an integrated industry. 

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Written by: Jørgen Kongsro, PhD