Making sense of animal production systems through processograms by Center for Welfare Metrics

Over the last decades, the industrial processes behind animal food production have become increasingly complex and diverse. Nowadays, their description presents challenges of technical nature to specialists and educators, and of understanding to laypersons. No technique has yet been developed to convey information about common and relevant processes that are typically part of the production chain, enabling their understanding for educational, quantitative and comparative purposes. To address this shortcoming, we developed a visualization solution which we refer to as a ‘Processogram’.
Processograms convey a time-ordered description of lifecycles and production phases within animal production systems. In each processogram, the proportions of spatial components of the system represent real-life conditions that are fitted along a horizontal axis representing the passage of time . When used as a web application, processograms are also a user-friendly gateway to further information, as users can zoom in and out of biological and industry-related layers of information.
By enabling a better understanding of the living and management conditions experienced by animals in different production scenarios, processograms provide a useful and interactive visualization tool of animal production chains to help inform consumers, policymakers, researchers and other stakeholders.
We illustrate the framework by applying it to describe the lifecycle of pigs in four production systems (for this case study only with sows in the printed version, and both sows and market pigs in the web version). This visualization project is structured to gradually include more data, and cover a wide range of animal production systems. The authors welcome contributions from other researchers, artists, animal welfare advocates, the industry and the general public.