Faculty Spotlight: Leonie Jacobs (APSC) SMART Broiler Grant
Bettering broiler chicken welfare by automatically evaluating their behavior
The SMART broiler initiative from FFAR provided funding for technology to reliably assess animal welfare indicators for broiler chickens on farm. The ultimate goal is a globally accessible, simple and affordable system that supports poultry farmers in enhancing animal welfare on their farm.
The international research group involves people from Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany and the U.S., and is led by Ingrid de Jong at Wageningen Livestock Research in the Netherlands. We are developing a camera-based system that automatically analyzes and interprets broiler chicken behavior. “For these birds, lameness can be a production and welfare issue, and the system we are developing are aimed at automatically and continuously score their gait at a flock-level.” said Dr. Jacobs, assistant professor in animal welfare at Virginia Tech. She continued “Furthermore, we want to identify important behaviors such as dustbathing and perching, which are indicators of good animal welfare. We aim for the system to become an easy-to-use tool for producers to monitor welfare and to provide the opportunity to intervene when needed.”