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Research Project: Enhancing Sustainability and Production Efficiency through Improved Management and Housing Design in Commercial Broilers

Location: Poultry Research

Title: An ultra-high frequency RFID system for studying individual feeding and drinking behaviors of group-housed broilers

Author
item LI, G - Mississippi State University
item ZHAO, Y - Mississippi State University
item HAILEY, R - Mississippi State University
item ZHANG, N - Heilongjiang Academy Of Agricultural Sciences
item LIANG, Y - Mississippi State University
item Purswell, Joseph

Submitted to: Animal-The International Journal of Animal Biosciences
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/19/2018
Publication Date: 1/11/2019
Citation: Li, G., Zhao, Y., Hailey, R., Zhang, N., Liang, Y., Purswell, J.L. 2019. An ultra-high frequency RFID system for studying individual feeding and drinking behaviors of group-housed broilers. Animal-The International Journal of Animal Biosciences. 13:(9)2060–2069. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1751731118003440.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1751731118003440

Interpretive Summary: Monitoring and measurement of animal behaviors is complex, particularly when imaging techniques are used. On-animal sensors provide a means to collect behavior data in real time, without the computational burden of image acquisition and processing. A behavior tracking system for individual broilers was developed using radio frequency identification (RFID) to measure feeding and drinking behavior. Antennae were placed at individual drinkers and feeders to record frequency and duration of visits by individual broilers in test rooms. Electromagnetic fields of the antennas were modified to cover areas of concern, i.e. tube feeders and nipple drinkers, through a series of system customizations including tag sensitivity test, power adjustment, radio wave shielding, and interference tests. The results showed that the max reading distance (MRD) of RFID tags with identical manufacturer’s specifications were markedly different, indicating large variations in sensitivity among the tags. The accuracies of UHF-RFID system for determining frequency and duration of behavior were 92.5±4.2% and 99.0±1.2%, respectively for the feeder antennas and 94.7±4.2% and 93.7±6.9% for the drinker antennas. The UHF-RIFD accurately detected and recorded feeding and drinking behaviors of individual broilers in group settings and thus is a useful tool for investigating impacts of resource allocations and management practices on these behaviors.

Technical Abstract: Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology offers a real-time solution to monitor behavioral responses of individual animals to various stimuli, which provides crucial implications on farm management and animal well-being. The objectives of this study were to (1) develop and describe an ultra-high frequency radio frequency identification (UHF-RFID) system for continuously monitoring feeding and drinking behaviors of individual broilers in group settings; and (2) validate the performance of the UHF-RFID system against video analysis in determining the instantaneous bird number (IBN) and time spent (TS) at feeder and drinker. The UHF-RFID system consisted of cable-tie tags, antennas, a reader and a data acquisition (DAQ) system. The antennas generated electromagnetic fields where tags were detected and registered by the DAQ system. Electromagnetic fields of the antennas were modified to cover areas of concern (i.e. tube feeders and nipple drinkers) through a series of system evaluations and customizations including tag sensitivity test, power adjustment, radio wave shielding, and assessment of interference by add-ons (e.g. plastic wraps for protecting antennas and an empty carton box for zoning out broilers) and feed/feeder. System validation was performed in two experimental rooms, each with 60 tagged broilers. The results showed that the max reading distances of tags with an identical manufacturer’s specification were markedly different, indicating large variations in sensitivity among the tags. Desired electromagnetic fields could be achieved by adjusting the power supplied to antennas and by partially shielding antennas with customized stainless steel sheets. The protection materials and fully loaded feeder had little effect on electromagnetic fields of the antennas. The accuracies of the UHF-RFID system for determining IBN and TS were, respectively, 92.5 ± 4.2% and 99.0 ± 1.2% by the feeder antennas and 94.7 ± 4.2% and 93.7 ± 6.9% by the drinker antennas. It is concluded that the UHF-RIFD system can accurately detect and record feeding and drinking behaviors of individual broilers in group settings and thus is a useful tool for investigating impacts of resource allocations and management practices on these behaviors.