Advancements in sensor technology and decision support intelligent tools to assist smart livestock farming.
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Remote monitoring, modern data collection through sensors, rapid data transfer, and vast data storage through the Internet of Things (IoT) have advanced precision livestock farming (PLF) in the last 20 yr. PLF is relevant to many fields of livestock production, including aerial- and satellite-based measurement of pasture's forage quantity and quality; body weight and composition and physiological assessments; on-animal devices to monitor location, activity, and behaviors in grazing and foraging environments; early detection of lameness and other diseases; milk yield and composition; reproductive measurements and calving diseases; and feed intake and greenhouse gas emissions, to name just a few. There are many possibilities to improve animal production through PLF, but the combination of PLF and computer modeling is necessary to facilitate on-farm applicability. Concept- or knowledge-driven (mechanistic) models are established on scientific knowledge, and they are based on the conceptualization of hypotheses about variable interrelationships. Artificial intelligence (AI), on the other hand, is a data-driven approach that can manipulate and represent the big data accumulated by sensors and IoT. Still, it cannot explicitly explain the underlying assumptions of the intrinsic relationships in the data core because it lacks the wisdom that confers understanding and principles. The lack of wisdom in AI is because everything revolves around numbers. The associations among the numbers are obtained through the "automatized" learning process of mathematical correlations and covariances, not through "human causation" and abstract conceptualization of physiological or production principles. AI starts with comparative analogies to establish concepts and provides memory for future comparisons. Then, the learning process evolves from seeking wisdom through the systematic use of reasoning. AI is a relatively novel concept in many science fields. It may well be "the missing link" to expedite the transition of the traditional maximizing output mentality to a more mindful purpose of optimizing production efficiency while alleviating resource allocation for production. The integration between concept- and data-driven modeling through parallel hybridization of mechanistic and AI models will yield a hybrid intelligent mechanistic model that, along with data collection through PLF, is paramount to transcend the current status of livestock production in achieving sustainability.