Humans have long been under CCTV surveillance, but now chickens and pigs are being watched too – by big farmer technology!
Researchers have set up cameras, sensors and microphones at a dozen experimental smart farms all over Europe – to track animal movements.
“They’re not just part of a security system. European researchers say they’ve developed and installed the devices to increase the wellbeing of animals, as well as the farm’s productivity,” reported euronews’
Julián López Gómez from a farm in Kessel, in The Netherlands.
Around 20-thousand chickens are under close surveillance on the farm in Kessel, their every move tracked by cameras and microphones.
“Cameras and microphones help me detect in real time when the animals are stressed for whatever reason,” explained farmer Twan Colberts.
“So I can find solutions faster and in more efficient ways, without me being constantly here, checking each animal.”
Animal scientists, bio-engineers and vets are part of this European research project
Fast, chaotic animal movements could indicate temperature, feeding or drinking problems for instance.
“If a feeding line would block, like this feeding line going along here on this picture, then you would see all the birds moving from that feeding line and going to another,” said Luc Rooijakkers, Project Manager, Fancom, as he showed us some images.
“Now for instance we can see that the birds are moving really fast. What’s happening we don’t know. We are now very close to the door of the (hen) house, so maybe they just hear us talking a little bit too much and they are scaring away.”
Some of the platform algorithms and computer tools were partially developed at the University of Leuven, in cooperation with another 20 partners.
Researchers say they can identify real problems in 95 out of every 100 alarms raised.
“The distribution of animals varies depending on factors like climate, temperature, quality of the soil etcetera,” explained Alberto Pena Fernandez, a bioscientist and research assistant at the University of Leuven.
“We have data about what, in a given farm, should be the average levels for all those factors which – when combined – affect animal behaviour.
“So when we make our predictions, we can discriminate quite accurately, and identify with some precision, the real problem for animals on the farm.”
In Meijel in The Netherlands, pigs are being monitored for coughing – a possible sign of a highly infectious respiratory disease.
Algorithms isolate the sounds in the barn.