Efficacy of an automated laser for reducing wild bird visits to the free range area of a poultry farm

Armin R.W. Elbers*, José L. Gonzales

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

In the Netherlands, free-range layer farms as opposed to indoor layer farms, are at greater risk with regard to the introduction of avian influenza viruses (AIVs). Wild waterfowl are the natural reservoir hosts of AIVs, and play a major role in their transmission to poultry by contaminating free-range layer areas. The laser as a wild bird repellent has been in use since the 1970s, in particular around airfields to reduce bird-strike. The efficacy of laser for reducing wild bird numbers in and around free-range poultry areas has however not been investigated. During the autumn–winter, wild bird visits to the free-range area of a layer farm was surveilled by video-camera for a month without laser, followed by a month with laser. The automated laser (Class-III B qualification) was operated in two separate areas (i) within the poultry free-range area that directly bordered the poultry barn between 5:00 p.m. and 10:00 a.m. when poultry were absent (free-range study area, size 1.5 ha), and (ii) in surrounding grass pastures between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. The overall (all bird species combined) efficacy of the laser for reducing the rate of wild birds visiting the free-range study area was 98.2%, and for the Orders Anseriformes and Passeriformes, respectively, was 99.7% and 96.1%. With the laser in operation, the overall exposure time of the free-range area to wild bird visits, but specifically to the Order Anseriformes, was massively reduced. It can be concluded that the Class-III B laser is highly proficient at keeping wild birds, in particular waterfowl, away from the free-range area of layer farms situated along a winter migration flyway.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12779
JournalScientific Reports
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2021

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