Tracking chickens

Hi all,

I'm Ash this is my first post here and I'm looking for some inspiration to put my idea in to motion. I'm a farmer by trade so my technology knowledge is not the best and i'm no expert in what I'm trying to achieve so please bear with me if I don't explain things to well!!

So, I want to track the movement of Chickens in a barn. I plan to try and do this using various sensors around the barn and also attaching some form of tracker to the birds. There are many gps trackers out there specifically for birds but I can't really find much out there to track the movement of a bird in a building on a smaller scale. The building size is 300ft x 60 ft.

I specifically want to track where the bird goes within the barn, how often it moves, how often it sits still and if possible how often it goes to to feed or drink.

I'm sure this possible I just don't know how to achieve it so any input is greatly appreciated.

Even tracking one chicken indoors is an extremely difficult task. GPS usually doesn't work indoors.

Your only viable option is one or more wide angle video cameras that could see some sort of distinguishing tag, combined with image processing on a PC.

While I don’t have a solution, a couple of things do come to mind from your comments - gps tends to have a margin of error of something like 30 feet depending so that may not give you the resolution you want. Also, if your barn has a metal roof, you are going to have real problems with any GPS signals getting through correctly. Perhaps RFID tags of some sort with multiple sensors located around the barn to identify which area they are in could work?

Thanks for your replies.

I'm quite sure gps is not an option. We do have metal roofs and we also need to track much more accurately that 30 foot.

The video camera option is something that is already being used in this industry not specifically to track single birds but to track the activity of whole bird population within the barn. This involves 3 cameras at the Ridge of the roof looking down. They can track three zones each so basically the 3 cameras monitor the activity of 9 zones within the barn. The analysis software translates the images into an index for bird migration and activity within the house and flags up any issues. What I'm trying to achieve is similar but I want to track individual birds accurately. Weather I could track individual birds using something similar to this system I don't really know

I'm going to do some research into the RFID tags to see if this option could be viable.

**Update:**After some breif research I do find the idea of RFID tags quite interesting. I'm going to look into this further.

I can't see any role for a 16MHz and 2k SRAM Arduino in this project.

...R

Maybe PIR sensors might be useful - ?

regards

Allan

Ashpack:
I'm sure this possible I just don't know how to achieve it so any input is greatly appreciated.

It is at a price.
Unless you have a research budget, or an application that demands it such as logistic management it may be out of your budget.

Your earlier mention of video tracking is probably the easiest but not really an arduino application.

Have a look at the Pixy. If you only need to track a few birds out of the flock and don't mind spraypainting one blue, one red, one green then the Pixy will track them very accurately.

If you have 10,000 birds it would be prohibitively expensive to track them all... if possible.

I take it you want to label just a few to get typical movement patterns.

Why not put dobs of paint on those few, and sit and watch.... your eyes are far better than any machine.

May save time and frustration in the long run.

regards

Allan

Still trying to figure out "why the chicken crossed the road". :slight_smile:

gpsmikey:
Still trying to figure out "why the chicken crossed the road". :slight_smile:

The egg rolled across the road first.

In large farms, they use a hanging perch.
weighs the chickens. and it only needs to be a few inches above the ground.
RFID tags on the perch to data log the chicken and the weight.

RFID scanner near the food and the water would offer some help towards your goal

As for Robin2, RFID scanner connected to a NANO, connected to some wireless or wired unit and it could feed the data back to a MEGA to store on a SD chip.

That was why I originally suggested the RFID idea - they are relatively cheap and it would not cost that much to set up "zones" with multiple sensors so you at least have an idea where they are. Not sure just what precision you need on their location or is within a few feet or so good enough?

We also have a guy here that is working with automatic chickens… Perhaps you two should get together.

active or passive RFID can work depending on your budget and design. Passive RFID tags are on the order of $2 per tag, but need to be in close proximity (15-20 cm) to the reader. Active RFID tags are bigger as the tag contains a battery that transmits to a reader. You see these in places like hospitals. These tags are on the order of $20 dollars per tag so an order of magnitude higher.

Active RFID design suggestion:
This is easiest readers would be stationary but have good range (1000 ft). Now these tags are good size so strapping them to a chicken might be fun and well another expense. Unless you have a way of doing that already. Not sure if you need Arduino for this though. active RFID kit

Passive RFID design suggestion:
This would be a lot cheaper but you would need multiple readers available by Arduino or Arduino-compatible suppliers. The readers may need to be mobile unless you can build a chute one chicken wide with the readers in the chute because they need to around 12" or less from the tag. Tags can be adhesive or of many other forms you can find. I have had good luck with adafruit so you can check here. Passive RFID reader for Arduino

Thanks everyone for your input.

We produce over 4 million chickens a year and have around 500,000 on the ground at a time. We have about 50,000 per barn. The ability to track even 25 of these birds in each barn would give us a great insight into the birds behaviour and allow us to react to any issues quickly.

It's not possible to put any colours on the birds that will attract attention. The other birds would bully the bird and this would be a welfare issue. Anything the same colour as the other birds is fine. Leg rings would be perfect. I have seen RFID leg rings used on pigeons but to what degree they are able to track them I do not know. They may be used just to sign them in and out.

I do like the idea of Active RFID but I think this may present some challenges in terms of fixing the tag to the bird if it is fairly large. We need it to be fairly precise within a few feet or ideally less. We are happy to spend money to make this happen if there is something out there suitable for what we want to do.

Going slightly off subject: We do have the Automatic weighing scales but not in an RFID form. They are able to weigh multiple birds on the scales at any one time. This is sent back to a computer which calculates the weights. They weight upto 4000 birds a day and a extremely accurate.

Ashpack:
Thanks everyone for your input.

Leg rings would be perfect. I have seen RFID leg rings used on pigeons but to what degree they are able to track them I do not know. They may be used just to sign them in and out.

They have very short range.

With passive RFID, the bigger the aerial , the longer the range.

Receiver tends to be large too, look at the detector loopps in supermarkets.
Gates using these have been used for tracking cattle and i think ostriches.

Boardburner2:
They have very short range.

With passive RFID, the bigger the aerial , the longer the range.

Receiver tends to be large too, look at the detector loopps in supermarkets.
Gates using these have been used for tracking cattle and i think ostriches.

Yes if only they made them smaller they would be ideal.

Active RFID has been used to accurately track cattle in the same way I want to but again they have a giant collar around the neck.

Unfortunatly precision farming is quite a new thing, especially in the poultry industry.

Sounds like you need (indoor gps).

Vero tracking do such a system at a price.
Not sure if the transponders are small enough though.

http://vero.solutions/technology/wi-fi/

If, as you say, you are happy to spend the money,,, There is a little company named International Business Machines which has a solution for you.