The research is the first of its kind in Australia, and has been the subject of a two year project funded, to date, by AgriFutures™ Chicken Meat Program.
Chicken sheds are typically inspected three times per day and rely on the human eye, whereas Dr McCarthy’s system deploys continual on-board image analysis to provide minute-by-minute alerts.
“The cameras observe the daily behavioural patterns of the chickens, picking up changes indicative of underlying health issues,” said Dr McCarthy.
“The camera technology’s artificial intelligence spots subtle patterns in behaviours – are the chickens sitting more often? Grouping together? Not eating as much?
“The benefits include increased productivity via early interventions and better animal welfare, and as the cameras are low-cost, the technology is well-suited to on-farm use,” said Dr McCarthy.
AgriFutures™ Chicken Meat Advisory Panel Chair and grower Guy Hebblewhite added that the technology could be a game-changer in improving chicken welfare issues, productivity and forecasting for the supply chain.
“This data can be used in the diagnosis of temperature stress or foot conditions like footpad dermatitis.”
The software has wide-reaching possibilities, with investigations also underway to apply it to chicken weight estimation and in a free-range setting using drone technology.