A Systematic Review of Precision Livestock Farming in the Poultry Sector: Is Technology Focussed on Improving Bird Welfare?
Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Mansfield Road, Oxford OX1 3SZ, UK
Center for Proper Housing: Poultry and Rabbits, Division of Animal Welfare, University of Bern, Burgerweg 22, CH-3052 Zollikofen, Switzerland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 13 July 2019 / Revised: 21 August 2019 / Accepted: 23 August 2019 / Published: 27 August 2019
Precision livestock farming (PLF) is the use of technology to help farmers monitor and manage their animals and their farm. This technology can help to improve animal welfare by enabling farmers to act as soon as any problem arises. However, the technology can also be used to increase production efficiency on the farm, which could be prioritised over the animals’ welfare. The aim of this study was to give an overview of PLF technology development in poultry farming, and to investigate whether improving welfare has been the main goal of PLF development. The results suggest that PLF development in poultry farming so far has focussed on improving animal health and welfare, more so than increasing production. However, despite the interest in PLF research for poultry farming across the world (especially in the USA, China and Belgium), most of the technology is still being developed (prototypes); only a few are available for farmers to buy and use. This means that future work should focus on making these technologies commercially available to farmers, so that systems developed to improve welfare can be used to improve the welfare of farmed birds in the real world.