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Animals 2016, 6(2), 10;

Assessing Activity and Location of Individual Laying Hens in Large Groups Using Modern Technology

Animal Behavior and Welfare Group, Department of Animal Science, Michigan State University, 474 S. Shaw Ln, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA
Veterinary Public Health Institute, Vetsuisse Fakultät, University of Bern, Schwarzenburgstrasse 155, Liebefeld CH-3097, Switzerland
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Michigan State University, 428 S. Shaw Ln, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA
Department of Animal Science, Texas A & M University, Room 133 Kleberg, 2471 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843, USA
Center for Proper Housing: Poultry and Rabbits (ZTHZ), Division of Animal Welfare, VPH Institute, University of Bern, Burgerweg 22, Zollikofen CH-3052, Switzerland
Department of Animal Nutrition and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, P.O. Box 7024, Uppsala SE-750 07, Sweden
Bavarian State Research Centre for Agriculture, Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Animal Husbandry, Voettingerstrasse 36, Freising 85354, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Christine Nicol and T. Bas Rodenburg
Received: 21 December 2015 / Revised: 19 January 2016 / Accepted: 27 January 2016 / Published: 2 February 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Poultry Welfare)
PDF [2149 KB, uploaded 2 February 2016]


Tracking individual animals within large groups is increasingly possible, offering an exciting opportunity to researchers. Whereas previously only relatively indistinguishable groups of individual animals could be observed and combined into pen level data, we can now focus on individual actors within these large groups and track their activities across time and space with minimal intervention and disturbance. The development is particularly relevant to the poultry industry as, due to a shift away from battery cages, flock sizes are increasingly becoming larger and environments more complex. Many efforts have been made to track individual bird behavior and activity in large groups using a variety of methodologies with variable success. Of the technologies in use, each has associated benefits and detriments, which can make the approach more or less suitable for certain environments and experiments. Within this article, we have divided several tracking systems that are currently available into two major categories (radio frequency identification and radio signal strength) and review the strengths and weaknesses of each, as well as environments or conditions for which they may be most suitable. We also describe related topics including types of analysis for the data and concerns with selecting focal birds. View Full-Text
Keywords: tracking; individual; activity; RFID; motion; production tracking; individual; activity; RFID; motion; production

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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 (CC BY 4.0).

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Siegford, J.M.; Berezowski, J.; Biswas, S.K.; Daigle, C.L.; Gebhardt-Henrich, S.G.; Hernandez, C.E.; Thurner, S.; Toscano, M.J. Assessing Activity and Location of Individual Laying Hens in Large Groups Using Modern Technology. Animals 2016, 6, 10.

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