Camera helps producers easily track broiler activity

A multi-angle and multi-range camera system could improve broiler welfare and serve as a common assessment tool for producers and food retailers.

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David Tadevosian I shutterstock.com
David Tadevosian I shutterstock.com

A multi-angle and multi-range camera system could improve broiler welfare and serve as a common assessment tool for producers and food retailers.

“Current methods used for assessing broiler welfare lack accuracy and are labor-intensive. Technologies such as computer vision, robotics, and machine learning offer new opportunities for real-time monitoring of broiler activities and behaviors that can provide producers with critical information for the assessment of broiler welfare,” explained Hao Gan, a biosystems engineer with the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture.

The system is currently in the early stages of development and is tentatively scheduled to be completed sometime in late 2021. It was proposed by a research partnership comprised of scientists and engineers from the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, Mississippi State University, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service and BioRICS NV.

How it works

The camera system would be mounted permanently in broiler houses and would be set up tor both close- and long-range monitoring of bird activity. The multi-camera system allows producers to monitor birds from a variety of distances and angles.

“When combined with the deep learning algorithms, the vision-based system will analyze the walkability of individual broilers (gait score), which is one of the key welfare indicators,” Gan said.

Phase 1 of the SMART Broiler initiative

The system was recently recognized as one of the six Phase 1 winners of the SMART Broiler initiative. The award, sponsored by the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) and McDonald’s, was developed to support the development of automated monitoring tools to precisely assess broiler welfare.

“My team and I are very honored to be selected as one of the winners for SMART Broiler Phase I,” Gan said. “We believe this is a great opportunity for us to become one of the pioneers to develop innovative technologies for precision poultry/livestock farming.”

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