Microphones and cameras to detect avian diseases

A simple “chirp, chirp” could hide more than we think. An expert from M-Tech Systems presents some of the sensors that could help poultry producers in the future.

(Kadar-Viktor | freeimages.com)
(Kadar-Viktor | freeimages.com)

A simple “chirp, chirp” could hide more than we think. Researchers are analyzing the chirping of chickens in production to determine if the sounds indicate diseases and discomfort. The purpose is to develop sensors — with microphones and cameras — that collect data to make better decisions on poultry farms.

This research was announced by Alex Horvath, from M-Tech Systems USA LLC, during a presentation about using computer programs to collect production data presented at the second Latin American Poultry Summit, held in conjuntion with the 2020 International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) in Atlanta, Georgia.

“We are doing studies with universities like Georgia Tech to install cameras and microphones in poultry sheds. The purpose is to understand the movement that the birds make in the sheds, but with the microphones what we are looking for — and it is a bit difficult — is to understand the chirping that the chicken does when it has a malaise,” said Horvath.

The purpose is to “detect early that something bad is going to happen to the animal,” so poultry producers could take actions to correct the situation before it causes damage and losses.

They still have no date to launch the product. “We are learning how chickens speak. It is not something we can take lightly,” he said.

This is just one of the many sensors that could be added to precision poultry farming. In addition to the vocalization of birds, other studies seek to develop sensors related to lighting, video interpretation, egg counter, ventilation speed and more.

Horvath said that Oxford University is developing a sensor called Optiflock, which uses a camera with artificial vision for automatic evaluation of health and well-being in poultry lots. That sensor sends the information to a server, which analyzes what is happening and gives details to the producers to correct the situation.

“Our goal is to improve the monitoring of well-being through an automated analysis of the behavior of the lot,” he said.

Artificial vision to analyze bird beaks

Other research seeks to use artificial vision and images to detect if the birds’ beaks are healthy or if they show signs of illness. “Once the model is trained, it is possible to detect the problems by itself,” said the M-Tech Systems expert.

Sonar Echo, an innovative solution available for poultry farmers

Currently, there are already sensors with artificial intelligence to collect data in poultry farming. One of them is the Sonar Echo software, from M-Tech Systems, which collects data from sensors that detect temperature, humidity, water consumption, food consumption and bird weight.

Horvath said this solution has already been implemented — or is in the process of implementation — in poultry farms in the United States, Dominican Republic, Peru and Brazil.

It is not only about collecting the data but analyzing it to “be able to answer questions that we couldn't answer before.”

“It is not so much a matter of programming. It's having the right data,” he said.

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