Location: Crop Production Systems ResearchTitle: Comparative evaluation of poultry-human and poultry-robot avoidance distances
|PARAJULI, PRATIK - Mississippi State University|
|TABLER, TOM - Mississippi State University|
|Purswell, Joseph - Jody|
|DUBIEN, JANICE - Mississippi State University|
|ZHAO, YANG - Mississippi State University|
Submitted to: Transactions of the ASABE
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/1/2020
Publication Date: 5/1/2020
Citation: Parajuli, P., Huang, Y., Tabler, T., Purswell, J.L., Dubien, J.L., Zhao, Y. 2020. Comparative evaluation of poultry-human and poultry-robot avoidance distances. Transactions of the ASABE. 63(2):477-484. https://doi.org/10.13031/trans.13644.
Interpretive Summary: Robots have been developed to promote precision agriculture and similarly in the poultry industry they are being developed to reduce labor involvement in poultry production. However, there are concerns regarding potential stresses from robot interactions with birds. Scientists from Mississippi State University, USDA ARS Crop Production Systems Research Unit at Stoneville, Mississippi, and USDA ARS Poultry Research Unit at Mississippi State, Mississippi have collaboratively evaluated the avoidance distances, a parameter reflecting stress of an animal to an approaching object (human or robot), of broilers and layers to a human assessor vs. to a ground robotic vehicle. The results indicated that the ground robot did not induce more stresses to broilers than human and provided baseline poultry-robot avoidance distance data, which are valuable for understanding poultry interactions with robot to help further develop the robotics for applications in poultry industry.
Technical Abstract: Advances in robotics promote the interests of its applications in the poultry industry to reduce labor involvement; however, skeptics express their concerns regarding potential stresses stemmed from poultry-robot interactions. The objective of this study was to evaluate the avoidance distances (ADs) – a parameter reflecting stress of an animal to an approaching object – of broilers and laying hens to a human assessor vs. to a ground robotic vehicle. The ADs were determined for birds at different ages (2, 4, 6 and 8 week old for broilers, 28 ,47 and 66 week old for brown hens and 27, 46 and 70 week old for white hens) in a commercial broiler house and two commercial cage-free (CF) hen houses. The poultry-robot ADs were determined at three robotic operation speeds (0.2 m s-1, 0.4 m s-1 and 0.6 m s-1) and two operation frequencies (bi-weekly vs. daily operations, for broiler only). The results show that the overall poultry-human and poultry-robot ADs were, respectively, 48-82 cm and 83-110 cm for broiler, 54-87 cm and 114-131 cm for brown hens, and 71-76 cm and 92-99 cm for white hens when birds experienced the robots on test days only. Broiler-robot ADs significantly reduced to 30-63 cm when birds were exposed to the robot daily, reflecting less stress induced by robot than human. Poultry ADs to the assessor and robot tended to decrease for older birds. Slower robotic operation speeds led to shorter ADs for broilers at 6 and 8 weeks of age and white hens at all ages, but did not affect the ADs for broilers at 2 and 4 weeks of age and brown hens at all ages. Slower robotic operation speeds also reduced the bird fleeing speeds (FS). It is concluded that the ground robot did not induce more stresses to broilers than human. Baseline poultry-robot ADs obtained in this study provide valuable information to understand poultry interactions with robot, and may help to optimize the robotic operations for applications in poultry industry.