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Automatic Identification of Broiler Mortality Using Image Processing Technology

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  10th International Livestock Environment Symposium (ILES X)  .(doi:10.13031/iles.18-034)
Authors:   Veera V. R. M. K. R. Muvva, Yang Zhao, Pratik Parajuli, Song Zhang, Tom Tabler, Joseph. Purswell
Keywords:   Mortality identification, broiler, thermal equilibrium, image processing, body temperature

Abstract. Identifying dead birds is a time and labor consuming task in commercial broiler production. Automatic mortality identification not only helps to save the time and labor, but also offers a critical procedure/component for autonomous mortality removal systems. The objectives of this study were to 1) investigate the accuracy of automatically identifying dead broilers at two stocking densities through processing thermal and visible images, and 2) delineate the dynamic body surface temperature drops after euthanasia. The tests were conducted on a weekly basis over two 9-week production cycles in a commercial broiler house. A 0.8mx0.6m floor area was fenced using chicken wires to accommodate experimental broilers. A dual-function camera was installed above the fenced area and simultaneously took thermal and visible videos of the broilers for 20 min at each stocking density. An algorithm was developed to extract pixels of live broilers in thermal images and pixels of all (live and dead) broilers in visible images. The algorithm further detected pixels of dead birds by subtracting the two processed thermal and visible images taken at the same time, and reported the coordinates of the dead broilers. The results show that the accuracy of mortality identification was 90.7% for the regular stocking density and 95.0% for the low stocking density, respectively, for 5-week old or younger broilers. The accuracy decreased for older broilers due to less body-background temperature gradients and more body interactions among birds. The body surface temperatures dropped more slowly for older broilers than younger ones. Body surface temperature requires approximately 1.7 hour for 1-week old broiler to reach 1°C above the background level, while over 6 hours for 4-week and 7-week old broilers. In conclusion, the system and algorithm developed in this study successfully identified broiler mortalities at promising accuracies for younger birds (<5-week old), while requires improvement for older ones.

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