On-farm automated tracking of group-housed poultry

E.D. Ellen*, M. van der Sluis, B. de Klerk, Y. de Haas, Thijme Hijink, T.B. Rodenburg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingAbstract


Production animals, including poultry, are increasingly kept in groups, making identification and tracking of individual animals challenging. Often video analyses are used, but these are time-consuming and prone to human error. Therefore, automated systems for monitoring individual animals are desired. One possible approach is the implementation of an ultra-wideband (UWB) system to track individual animals. A previous study implemented an UWB system for laying hens in a research setting. Hens were fitted with an UWB tag in a small backpack and, using stationary sensing beacons, the location of each bird could be determined. Compared to video tracking of individual birds, the UWB system was shown to be capable of detecting the bird’s location with 85% accuracy. In the current study, the system was applied on a broiler farm to assess its on-farm applicability. At approximately 14 days of age, broilers were fitted with an UWB tag. Twelve birds were tracked with the UWB system on nineteen consecutive days, for one hour each day. Distances moved according to the UWB system were compared to those found on video and a moderately strong correlation between the UWB system and video tracking was found (Repeated measures correlation, r=0.71, P<0.0005). Furthermore, individual levels of activity were assessed using this setup. 137 birds from different genetic crosses were tracked near-continuously for seventeen consecutive days. First results indicate that for all crosses, the UWB system was found to be capable of detecting a decrease in activity over time. Overall, the UWB system appears well-suited for tracking of broilers. However, the UWB tags are relatively large. Therefore, tracking and monitoring of young broilers is not possible. Current work is focussing on implementing a passive radio frequency identification system, with smaller tags. Possibly, this system can track individual activity of broiler chickens throughout their life.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBook of abstracts of the 70th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science (EAAP)
PublisherWageningen Academic Publishers
ISBN (Electronic)9789086868902
ISBN (Print)9789086863396
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event70th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science (2019) - Ghent, Belgium
Duration: 26 Aug 201930 Aug 2019

Publication series

NameBook of Abstracts
PublisherWageningen Academic Publishers
ISSN (Electronic)1382-6077


Conference70th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science (2019)
Abbreviated titleEAAP 2019
Internet address


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