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Reducing avoidable animal suffering with AI technology

AI4Animals: an intelligent surveillance system

AI4Animals is an innovative camera surveillance system to better monitor how animals are handled in slaughterhouses. The key objective is to better identify, address and avoid welfare and animal handling issues.

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Over the last years, most major slaughterhouses in the Netherlands have implemented camera monitoring systems. Every day, this results in hundreds of hours of video footage. Although current camera systems can help identify animal handling issues, there are significant limitations. In practice, slaughterhouses review a random selection of the many hours of video footage generated every day. As a result, most video footage remains unseen.

To address these shortcomings, a unique group of organizations consisting of animal welfare organizations De Dierenbescherming and Eyes On Animals, meat producer Vion and Deloitte teamed up to jointly develop an innovative camera surveillance system.

Mission statement

To significantly reduce avoidable and unnecessary animal suffering through innovative technology and its effective adoption, in close collaboration with committed organizations and people.

Efficiently monitoring animal welfare in slaughterhouses

The newly developed video software uses artificial intelligence to monitor how animals are being handled. Video recording that potentially contain animal handling issues are automatically selected by the AI4Animals algorithm and presented through a dashboard to be reviewed and, if required, escalated. This enables slaughterhouse employees to assess the video images and take corrective actions in order to improve animal welfare.

The system has proven itself in slaughterhouses across western Europe where employees are watching the highest animal welfare risk events selected by the system on a daily basis. This allows slaughterhouses to take control of their animal welfare situation, either with a single slaughterhouse or across slaughterhouses.

The video software uses the AI4A algorithm, developed by Deloitte, to detect possible animal mishandling by reviewing interactions between persons, animals, and, objects from the video footage.

Why not use innovative technology to make a positive impact where you might not expect it, but is much-needed?


Carlos Morales, Partner at Deloitte Consulting

About AI4Animals

AI4Animals is the product of a close collaboration between the Deloitte Impact Foundation and Deloitte Innovation, animal welfare organizations such as Eyes On Animals and de Dierenbescherming, and lastly meet producer Vion. Established in 1934, Vion is a worldwide leader in the meat processing industry headquartered in the Netherlands, possessing around 30 production sites, and employing 12,500+ people. Vion seeks to innovate the meat processing industry by aligning their mission to deliver large scale healthy food supplies with a sustainable and more respectful processing and operational model for everyone.

How it works

AI4Animals consists of AI models and a dashboard that significantly improves camera surveillance by automatically detecting animal handling issues, in near real-time. It does so in 4 steps:

1. AI4Animals uses streaming camera footage and detects animals, people, and objects and how they interact.

2. Business rules and tracking are applied to the detections in the frames to find potential handling issues.

3. The system then selects and aggregates all video fragments containing potential issues to be reviewed.

4. The results are reported in trend reports outlining deviations over time and per slaughterhouse.

What it detects

The AI cloud platform has been built with AWS services and it has successfully enabled to decrease animal suffering thanks to the diverse range of actions impacting animal wellbeing that the algorithm can detect:

1. Human movement – People walking directly against the direction of the pigs can cause stress

2. Animal staying behind – AI4A detects one or more animals staying behind for some time, while others continue. This might indicate lameness, exhaustion and injuries

3. Mobile stunner usage – AI4A monitors the use of the mobile stunner and whether it has been applied according to protocol

4. Bottlenecks – This occurs when a large group of animals are stuck in the runway, causing stress

5. Signs of life and consciousness – AI4A detects signs of life or consciousness when the animals should not be alive

Explore Cloud Transformation at Deloitte

Cloud Transformation

There is a common denominator: the need to better monitor animals. By jointly focusing on this, a unique collaboration was created.

Carlos Morales
, Partner at Deloitte Consulting

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