Validation of an ultra-wideband tracking system for recording individual levels of activity in broilers

Malou Van Der Sluis*, Britt De Klerk, Esther D. Ellen, Yvette De Haas, Thijme Hijink, Bas Rodenburg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Broiler chickens are often kept in large groups, which makes it difficult to identify individual birds and monitor their activity. Here, we studied whether an automated tracking system, using ultra-wideband technology, could be implemented to study activity of individual broilers. We compared the distance as recorded with the tracking system to the distance recorded on video and found a moderately strong positive correlation. Using the tracking system, we were able to detect decreases in activity over time, and we found that lightweight birds were on average more active than heavier birds. Both these results match with reports from literature and therefore support the conclusion that the tracking system appears well-suited for monitoring activity in broilers. The information on activity over time that can be collected with this system can potentially be used to study health, welfare and performance at the individual level, but further research into individual patterns in activity is required. Individual data on activity of broilers is valuable, as activity may serve as a proxy for multiple health, welfare and performance indicators. However, broilers are often kept in large groups, which makes it dificult to identify and monitor them individually. Sensor technologies might offer solutions. Here, an ultra-wideband (UWB) tracking system was implemented with the goal of validating this system for individual tracking of activity of group-housed broilers. The implemented approaches were (1) a comparison of distances moved as recorded by the UWB system and on video and (2) a study recording individual levels of activity of broilers and assessing group-level trends in activity over time; that could be compared to activity trends from literature. There was a moderately strong positive correlation between the UWB system and video tracking. Using the UWB system, we detected reductions in activity over time and we found that lightweight birds were on average more active than heavier birds. Both findings match with reports in literature. Overall, the UWB system appears well-suited for activity monitoring in broilers, when the settings are kept the same for all individuals. The longitudinal information on differences in activity can potentially be used as proxy for health, welfare and performance; but further research into individual patterns in activity is required.

Original languageEnglish
Article number580
JournalAnimals
Volume9
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019

Keywords

  • Activity
  • Broilers
  • Group housing
  • Tracking
  • Ultra-wideband

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