Automatic Assessment of Keel Bone Damage in Laying Hens at the Slaughter Line
Farm Animal Behaviour and Husbandry Section, University of Kassel, Nordbahnhofstr. 1a, 37213 Witzenhausen, Germany
Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Section, University of Kassel, Nordbahnhofstr. 1a, 37213 Witzenhausen, Germany
CLK GmbH, Zur Steinkuhle 3, 48341 Altenberge, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 November 2020 / Revised: 18 December 2020 / Accepted: 21 December 2020 / Published: 12 January 2021
Keel bone damage (KBD) is very prevalent in commercial laying hen flocks with a wide range of affected hens/flock. It can cause pain, and affected hens have been found to be less mobile. The assessment of this animal welfare indicator provides important feedback for the farmer about flock health and consequently on the need for interventions. However, the assessment of keel bone damage is time-consuming, and prior training is needed in order to gain reliable results. Optical detection methods can be a means to automatedly score hens at the slaughter line with high sample sizes and in a standardized way. We developed and validated an automatic 3D camera-based detection system. While it generally underestimates the presence of KBD due to the purely visual assessment and technical constraints, it nevertheless shows good accuracy and high correlation of prevalences with those visually determined by a trained human assessor. Therefore, this system opens up opportunities to better monitor and combat a severe animal welfare problem in the long-term.