Project: Validation of automated welfare assessment for poultry

The goal of this project is to develop and validate an automated system for assessing the welfare of broiler chickens on commercial farms that can be widely used by farmers, veterinarians and researchers. The project is based on a system that uses cameras to monitor the behaviour of chicken flocks and analyzes the ?optical flow? patterns made by the movement of the flocks. The system has already demonstrated that it is able to detect key welfare outcomes such as % mortality, hockburn and lameness. Preliminary evidence suggests that it is also sensitive to disease levels within a flock. However, to be of practical use the system needs to be further validated. This project will do this (i) by testing the system on a wide range of farms and conditions across Europe (ii) by comparing it with other already recognized but labour-intensive systems for assessing welfare at flock level (iii) by comparing its output with independently measured health and behavioural parameters from individual birds within a flock (iv) by relating optical flow to infection by key diseases such as Salmonella and Campylobacter and to variations in gut health. Using the information collected, a database will be set up so that optical flow data can be seen and evaluated in the context of production, health, management and other flock attributes, with the aim of developing ?norms? for good flock welfare. The project consortium consists of teams from the UK, France, Switzerland and the Czech Republic and includes experts on behaviour, welfare, stress physiology, poultry health, immunology, as well as specialists in Salmonella infection, genotyping of Campylobacter and DNA technology for analyzing gut microbiota. The consortium will be able to make use of specialist facilities offered by the different institutions and the wide knowledge of poultry production across Europe possessed by different members. Although diverse in their interests, the consortium is united by a determination to improve poultry health and welfare by careful and validated use of technology.

Acronym AWAP
Website visit project website
Network ANIHWA
Call 3rd ANIHWA Joint Call

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
French Technical Institute for Poultry Production Partner France
French National Institute for Agricultural Research Partner France
University of Oxford Coordinator United Kingdom
University of Bern Partner Switzerland
Veterinary Research Institute Partner Czech Republic