The gender ratio of free-range chickens is considered as a major animal welfare problem in commercial broiler farming. Free-range chicken producers need to identify chicken gender to estimate the economic value of their flock. However, it is challenging for farmers to estimate the gender ratio of chickens efficiently and accurately, since the environmental background is complicated and the chicken number is dynamic. Moreover, manual estimation is likely double counts or missed count and thus is inaccurate and time consuming. Hence, automated methods that can lead to results efficiently and accurately replace the identification abilities of a chicken gender expert, working in a farm environment, are beneficial to the industry. The contributions in this paper include: (1) Building the world’s first chicken gender classification database annotated manually, which comprises 800 chicken flock images captured on a farm and 1000 single chicken images separated from the flock images by an object detection network, labelled with gender information. (2) Training a rooster and hen classifier using a deep neural network and cross entropy in information theory to achieve an average accuracy of 96.85%. The evaluation of the algorithm performance indicates that the proposed automated method is practical for the gender classification of chickens on the farm environment and provides a feasible way of thinking for the estimation of the gender ratio.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited