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MONITORING OF LITTER QUALITY IN BROILER COMMERCIAL FARMS USING CAMERA-BASED TECHNOLOGY
Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan www.asabe.org
Citation: 2016 ASABE Annual International Meeting 162461354.(doi:10.13031/aim.20162461354)
Authors: Alberto Peña Fernández, Tom Van Hertem, Vasileios Exadaktylos, Tomas Norton, Erik Vranken, Daniel Berckmans
Keywords: activity, broilers, distribution, litter quality, precision livestock farming
Abstract. Litter quality has a high impact in the performance of broiler flocks in commercial farms in terms of health, welfare and profitability. Fast detection of changes in litter quality will help farmers to improve their management of the flock and react fast to arising problems. Precision Livestock Farming (PLF) technologies allow monitoring the flock in a continuous and automated way in the house. The aim of this study is to show how monitoring the activity and floor occupation (called “occupation” from this point on) of the flock, information about the quality of the house litter can be retrieved. Four top view cameras were used in a commercial broiler house in the Netherlands to generate a visualization of the floor area. The cameras are able to record images continuously during the light periods of every cycle and these images are translated into activity and occupation indices per minute. The monitoring of activity and occupation indices through successive growing cycles allows defining reference curves for activity and occupation patterns. These references curves for activity and occupation can be used to determine deviations from ongoing individual activity and occupation patterns, respectively. This was done at both, complete house and camera level. The deviations (> 15%) found working at camera level for the occupation index show a statistical relevant correlation (p < 0.05, R2 = 0.7) with the litter scores gathered in that specific area of the house during the performance of assessments by human experts. Furthermore, from these results, a methodology to define the reference curves for activity and occupation and the range of action of this approach as monitoring tool for assessing litter quality can be established.
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