Artificial intelligence in the barn

Published: 2 April 2024

Imagine cows roaming freely in a barn equipped with cameras and sensors linked to artificial intelligence in a system that predicts their mood and lifespan. Implementing such a system is the mission of the new Research and Innovation Chair in Animal Welfare and Artificial Intelligence (WELL-E), created jointly by McGill University and UQAM thanks to $5 million in funding over five years.

“It’s a live digital laboratory that will work with producers to give them new tools,” says Elsa Vasseur, Associate Professor in the Department of Animal Science at McGill University. She is co-holder of the chair, which will receive technical and financial support from several partners, including Les Producteurs de lait du Québec (PLQ) and the Lactanet dairy herd improvement centre, as well as the Novalait consortium of Quebec milk producers and processors.

Professor Vasseur spoke to the McGill Reporter about how happier, healthier cows make more profitable farms, her goal to train the next generation of interdisciplinary specialists, the storied history of dairy expertise at McGill, and the future of her project.

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