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ARS Home » Plains Area » Clay Center, Nebraska » U.S. Meat Animal Research Center » Nutrition, Growth and Physiology » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #306653

Title: Quantifying detection performance of a passive low-frequency RFID system in an environmental preference chamber for laying hens

item SALES, G - University Of Illinois
item GREEN, ANGELA - University Of Illinois
item GATES, RICHARD - University Of Illinois
item Brown-Brandl, Tami
item Eigenberg, Roger

Submitted to: Computers and Electronics in Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/15/2015
Publication Date: 5/4/2015
Citation: Sales, G.T., Green, A.R., Gates, R.S., Brown-Brandl, T.M., Eigenberg, R.A. 2015. Quantifying detection performance of a passive low-frequency RFID system in an environmental preference chamber for laying hens. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture. 114:261-268.

Interpretive Summary: New technology has the potential to improve production, management and create better environments for agricultural livestock. Radio frequency identification (RFID) systems are a technology that has been applied widely to identify and track animals in production and research settings. This work evaluated the potential use of RFID technology to monitor hen movement when given access to multiple chambers. Hens were placed into chambers that allowed them to move between any of four chambers; the radio frequency identification system’s antennas were strategically placed within each of the chambers. Additionally, video cameras recorded the hen’s movements within each of the chambers. Detection of location using the RFID system was compared with the events recorded using the video camera system. This study found that the RFID system was suitable for determining the total time birds spent in each chamber of the test arrangement, but, this system was not reliable to determine how often each hen visited each chamber. This work provided a valuable basis for evaluating future application of RFID technologies and insights into ways to improve similar systems for future studies.

Technical Abstract: Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) systems have been widely used in production livestock systems for identifying, tracing, and registering animals and improving subsidy management. Adaptations have been made to extend RFID technology to animal behavior and welfare research. An RFID system was implemented and evaluated for use in an environmental preference chamber (EPC) to detect hens transiting between four compartments of the EPC. RFID antennas were housed in a bird area within each enclosure and hens wore RFID tags on one of their legs. The primary goal of this work was to quantify RFID detection performance by assessing detection ranges in a controlled test and comparing the number of entries into and length of stay in each compartment as detected by the RFID system to manual assessment of recorded video. The RFID system detection range was revealed to not cover the entire test bird area, excluding an area near the feeder and the passageways between compartments. During a choice-test study, mean±SD success detection rates were 91.0±2.6% for trials with groups of birds, and 85.8±8.0% for trials with individual birds when considering compartment occupancy. When measuring frequency of entries, success detection rates were 62.6±11.2% for trials with groups, and 51.3±18.4% for trials with individuals. Sources of misdetection included: i) RFID tag being out of the detection range; ii) conflicts caused by multiple RFID tags within the same detection zone; and iii) short-duration visits (less than the RFID antenna scan interval). The delay between actual hen entry and its detection by RFID was 42.3±35.7 sec in trials with individuals and 6.4±5.2 sec in trials with groups. Detection times were within the antenna scanning interval of 15 sec (a hen entered a cage and was immediately detected by the next antenna scan) in 60.3% of the events with individuals and 98.1% of the events with groups. Despite the difference between detected entries and actual entries (P=0.008 [groups]; P=0.05 [individuals]), no differences were found between total duration of stay or average visit length determined from RFID data and video. These results imply that the RFID system was suitable for determining the total time birds spend in each EPC compartment, but not reliable for determining frequency of visits.