Discrete event simulation in livestock management

Gittins, Peter; McElwee, Gerard and Tipi, Nicoleta (2020). Discrete event simulation in livestock management. Journal of Rural Studies, 78 pp. 387–398.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrurstud.2020.06.039


The agricultural sector in the UK is facing unprecedented challenges as a result of changes in the macroeconomic environment and the future of the livestock sub-sector is particularly uncertain. Farmer's businesses and livelihoods are at risk with the planned removal of subsidy payments as a consequence of emerging agricultural policy change as a result of Brexit. Farmers are forced to seek adaptive strategies to survive because of changing socio-political circumstances. This study explores the potential of an analytical tool, Discrete Event Simulation (DES) applied within the agricultural sub-sector of livestock management. It utilises a multi methodological approach using both interviews with farmers and a simulation of a real case; Colclough livestock farm, located in Yorkshire, England. The findings show that DES can be used by livestock farmers, helping to simulate potential growth strategies and observe the impact in relation to existing farm processes. Barriers to the sector wide adoption of new farm technologies are presented. This research captures the current views of farmers regarding technology adoption, showing empirically that technologies and software exist which can improve economic performance of farming enterprises, however, contingent factors, such as age, attitudes, skillsets and broadband connectivity, limits successful adoption.

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