On the farm – how CCTV can support the livestock and agricultural industry

East Anglia is heavily dependent on agriculture and the combination of valuable livestock, remote locations and large swathes of farmland can make security a real issue for farm owners.


Abbeygate CCTV have called on the expertise of Jake Waddilove from The Piggery Vet, an experienced and well-respected pig veterinarian, to help explain how modern CCTV systems can support landowners and farm managers in their daily activities.

The first, and most obvious, is the ability to identify and reduce potential areas of risk such as vandalism, theft or arson. As Jake explains, “We’re aware of a number of incidents of arson against big straw stacks this year and the theft of livestock is always a concern. Using CCTV for surveillance is an investment in the security of the site and stock.”

The visible position of high-quality cameras, along with clear signage, is often enough to deter would-be criminals. In addition, if the worst does happen, installing cameras with clear recorded footage both day and night, aids the police in capturing the culprits. It may even help with your insurance premium.

Jake adds, “It’s not just livestock or crops at risk. Theft of expensive equipment, such as tractors, vehicles and even fuel are more than just an inconvenience. Creating a network of cameras in high risk locations, with alerts linked to mobile devices, allows additional surveillance that would otherwise be impossible.”

With Jake being an expert in pig behaviour, we asked his views on how CCTV could support the welfare of animals. His reply opened our eyes to a new use for cameras within pens. He said, “It’s really important to understand pig behaviour, especially if you are experiencing vice issues. We are all aware of the concerns raised regarding tail docking and finding a solution to what’s causing the pigs to be stressed and start tail biting is the best start to correcting the problem. We know watching their behaviour is a great way to find the source of the problem, but unfortunately being present with the animals, by definition, results in a change in behaviour. CCTV offers a solution.”

High definition cameras, networked through to monitoring stations or mobile devices, positioned to catch key problem areas such as feeding and watering stations can capture behaviour, allowing analysis and, hopefully, finding solutions to problems brought about by too few feeding stations, a lack of water or temperature issues.

The final, and potentially most important, area where CCTV can support staff working on the farm is disease control. As Jake says, “We spend a lot of time and money controlling disease on pig farms. Good biosecurity is vital to prevent entry of pathogens into the farm (external biosecurity) and the spread of pathogens within the farm (internal biosecurity).

“We can use CCTV as a major help in monitoring both of these areas. We can look at access to the farm by staff, contactors and other people to ensure they follow the correct protocols. In addition, we can watch supply vehicles, such as food deliveries, collections and loading pigs onto trucks in the loading bay, making sure operatives comply with lines of separation and other requirements (such as wearing overboots and clean overalls). The use of vehicle recognition (ANPR) can help to ensure only authorised vehicles enter the farm, and also to identify those who do not comply with the rules.

“For internal biosecurity, although CCTV cannot be used legally to monitor staff performance, it can be used very effectively to ensure the correct operating procedures are being followed and to monitor movement of staff and equipment around the farm. Facial recognition can restrict individuals entering high risk areas – it can even monitor the wearing of PPE and the temperature of staff on site. It also has an important role in monitoring health and safety procedures.”

From monitoring the perimeter of a farm and studying animal behaviour to ensuring good welfare and disease control, the new breed of CCTV cameras are designed to enhance surveillance and support the work of the whole team across all areas of the farm.

View the Hikvision Colorvu cameras in action:

Before installing CCTV, read the government’s latest guidance for surveillance cameras here

To discuss how Abbeygate CCTV can support your work, please call Simon Little on 01284 810320.