What Will Livestock Technology Look Like in the Face of COVID-19?

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When it comes to technology, everyone wants to know who the winners and the losers are. What brings a producer benefit? What doesn’t? Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum of technology adoption, one thing seems clear: COVID-19 is spurring along the adoption of technology on farms and ranches across the country. Our experts will weigh in on those topics and share their observations across the livestock industry.

Dr. Dan U. Thomson is a third-generation bovine veterinarian from Clearfield, Iowa. Dan received his bachelor’s degree in animal science and DVM from Iowa State University. He completed a master’s degree in ruminant nutrition from South Dakota State University and a doctorate in ruminant nutrition from Texas Tech University. Dan is professor and chair of the Department of Animal Science at Iowa State University. He previously held the Jones Professor of Production Medicine and Epidemiology at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. He has served as the Global Co-leader for McDonald’s Beef Health and Welfare Committee, sits on the YUM! Animal Welfare Council, chairs the Animal Welfare Committee of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and serves on the Animal Welfare Advisory Board of Tyson Fresh Meats. Dan is recognized internationally as a leader in animal welfare, beef cattle production and cattle health management. He teaches farm animal production medicine, welfare and nutrition and is the founder and host of Doc Talk, a nationally aired beef cattle health veterinary show on television. He has hosted over 400 episodes of the show in its ninth season that reaches over 45 million homes worldwide.

Aidan Connolly is CEO of Cainthus, an Irish artificial intelligence company, using computer vision to monitor animals. Cainthus combines unparalleled expertise and cutting-edge innovation to passively monitor cows and farm management practices 24/7, alerting the farmer when it matters most. He graduated with a master’s degree in international marketing from the Smurfit School of Business, University College Dublin, Ireland. Aidan previously worked with Alltech for more than 25 years, initially in Ireland and then was based in France, Brazil and the U.S. He has travelled for business to over 100 countries including most recently, and extensively, in China. From 2002 until 2008, he held the position of vice president of Alltech Europe, then moved to Washington, D.C., as vice president of corporate accounts. As chief innovation officer, Aidan was responsible for the commercialization of Alltech’s global research in addition to continuing corporate account strategy within Alltech. He received a bachelor’s degree in commerce from University College Dublin and a master’s degree in international marketing from the Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, University College Dublin.

Jennifer Shike is the editor and brand leader of Farm Journal’s PORK magazine. She grew up in Washington, Iowa, in one of the largest hog-producing counties in the country. She received her associate degree from Black Hawk College East Campus where she was a member of the livestock judging team. She then obtained her bachelor’s degrees in animal sciences and industry and ag journalism from Kansas State in 2000 where she was a member of the livestock judging and horse judging teams. She is responsible for developing the National Junior Swine Association (NJSA) from the ground up during her nearly 10-year career at the National Swine Registry. She then served as director of communications and marketing for the College of ACES at the University of Illinois before taking on her new role with Farm Journal in 2018. Jennifer and her husband, Dr. Dan Shike, have three kids — Olivia, Hunter and Harper — who keep them busy going to pig shows, wrestling meets, horse shows, cross country meets and more. They live in Sadorus, Ill.