Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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    Assessing the activity of individual group-housed broilers throughout life using a passive radio frequency identification system—a validation study
    Sluis, Malou van der; Haas, Yvette de; Klerk, Britt de; Rodenburg, T.B. ; Ellen, Esther D. - \ 2020
    Sensors 20 (2020)13. - ISSN 1424-8220 - p. 1 - 21.
    Activity - Broilers - Radio frequency identification - Tracking - Ultra-wideband - Video

    Individual data are valuable for assessing the health, welfare and performance of broilers. In particular, data on the first few days of life are needed to study the predictive value of traits recorded early in life for later life performance. However, broilers are generally kept in groups, which hampers individual identification and monitoring of animals. Sensor technologies may aid in identifying and monitoring individual animals. In this study, a passive radio frequency identification (RFID) system was implemented to record broiler activity, in combination with traditional video recordings. The two main objectives were 1) to validate the output of the RFID system by comparing it to the recorded locations on video, and 2) to assess whether the number of antennas visited per unit time could serve as a measure of activity, by comparing it to the distance recorded on video and to the distance moved as recorded using a validated ultra-wideband (UWB) tracking system. The locations recorded by the RFID system exactly matched the video in 62.5% of the cases, and in 99.2% of the cases when allowing for a deviation of one antenna grid cell. There were moderately strong Spearman rank correlations between the distance recorded with the RFID system and the distance recorded from video (rs = 0.82) and between UWB and RFID (rs = 0.70) in approximately one-hour recordings, indicating that the RFID system can adequately track relative individual broiler activity, i.e., the activity level of a broiler in comparison to its group members. As the RFID tags are small and lightweight, the RFID system is well suited for monitoring the individual activity of group-housed broilers throughout life.

    Assessing individual activity levels in two broiler lines using an ultra-wideband tracking system
    Sluis, Malou van der; Klerk, B. De; Ellen, E.D. ; Haas, Y. De; Hijink, T. ; Rodenburg, T.B. - \ 2019
    In: Precision Livestock Farming 2019. - Teagasc (Precision Livestock Farming 2019 - Papers Presented at the 9th European Conference on Precision Livestock Farming, ECPLF 2019 ) - ISBN 9781841706542 - p. 903 - 906.
    Activity - Broilers - Tracking - Ultra-wideband

    Individual data on activity of broilers is valuable for breeding programmes, as activity may serve as proxy for multiple health, welfare and performance indicators. However, in current husbandry systems, broilers are often kept in large groups, which makes it difficult to identify and monitor them at the individual level. Sensor technologies, such as ultra-wideband (UWB) tracking systems, might offer solutions. This paper investigated the recorded distances of an UWB tracking system that was applied to broilers, as a first step in assessing the potential of an UWB tracking system for studying individual levels of activity in broilers housed in groups. To this end, the distances moved as recorded by the UWB system were compared to distances recorded on video, using Kinovea video tracking software. There was a moderately strong positive correlation between the output of the UWB system and video tracking, although some under- and over- estimations were observed. Even though the recorded distances from the UWB system may not completely match the true distances moved, the UWB system appears to be well-suited for studying differences in activity between individual broilers when measured with the same system settings.

    Validation of an ultra-wideband tracking system for recording individual levels of activity in broilers
    Sluis, Malou Van Der; Klerk, Britt De; Ellen, Esther D. ; Haas, Yvette De; Hijink, Thijme ; Rodenburg, Bas - \ 2019
    Animals 9 (2019)8. - ISSN 2076-2615
    Activity - Broilers - Group housing - Tracking - Ultra-wideband

    Broiler chickens are often kept in large groups, which makes it difficult to identify individual birds and monitor their activity. Here, we studied whether an automated tracking system, using ultra-wideband technology, could be implemented to study activity of individual broilers. We compared the distance as recorded with the tracking system to the distance recorded on video and found a moderately strong positive correlation. Using the tracking system, we were able to detect decreases in activity over time, and we found that lightweight birds were on average more active than heavier birds. Both these results match with reports from literature and therefore support the conclusion that the tracking system appears well-suited for monitoring activity in broilers. The information on activity over time that can be collected with this system can potentially be used to study health, welfare and performance at the individual level, but further research into individual patterns in activity is required. Individual data on activity of broilers is valuable, as activity may serve as a proxy for multiple health, welfare and performance indicators. However, broilers are often kept in large groups, which makes it dificult to identify and monitor them individually. Sensor technologies might offer solutions. Here, an ultra-wideband (UWB) tracking system was implemented with the goal of validating this system for individual tracking of activity of group-housed broilers. The implemented approaches were (1) a comparison of distances moved as recorded by the UWB system and on video and (2) a study recording individual levels of activity of broilers and assessing group-level trends in activity over time; that could be compared to activity trends from literature. There was a moderately strong positive correlation between the UWB system and video tracking. Using the UWB system, we detected reductions in activity over time and we found that lightweight birds were on average more active than heavier birds. Both findings match with reports in literature. Overall, the UWB system appears well-suited for activity monitoring in broilers, when the settings are kept the same for all individuals. The longitudinal information on differences in activity can potentially be used as proxy for health, welfare and performance; but further research into individual patterns in activity is required.

    Review of sensor technologies in animal breeding: Phenotyping behaviors of laying hens to select against feather pecking
    Ellen, Esther D. ; Sluis, Malou Van Der; Siegford, Janice ; Guzhva, Oleksiy ; Toscano, Michael J. ; Bennewitz, Jörn ; Zande, Lisette E. Van Der; Eijk, Jerine A.J. Van Der; Haas, Elske N. de; Norton, Tomas ; Piette, Deborah ; Tetens, Jens ; Klerk, Britt de; Visser, Bram ; Bas Rodenburg, T. - \ 2019
    Animals 9 (2019)3. - ISSN 2076-2615
    -omics - Computer vision - Damaging behavior - Genetic selection - Identification - Measuring behavior - Radio frequency identification - Ultra-wideband

    Damaging behaviors, like feather pecking (FP), have large economic and welfare consequences in the commercial laying hen industry. Selective breeding can be used to obtain animals that are less likely to perform damaging behavior on their pen-mates. However, with the growing tendency to keep birds in large groups, identifying specific birds that are performing or receiving FP is difficult. With current developments in sensor technologies, it may now be possible to identify laying hens in large groups that show less FP behavior and select them for breeding. We propose using a combination of sensor technology and genomic methods to identify feather peckers and victims in groups. In this review, we will describe the use of “-omics” approaches to understand FP and give an overview of sensor technologies that can be used for animal monitoring, such as ultra-wideband, radio frequency identification, and computer vision. We will then discuss the identification of indicator traits from both sensor technologies and genomics approaches that can be used to select animals for breeding against damaging behavior.

    An automated positioning system for monitoring chickens' location : Accuracy and registration success in a free-range area
    Stadig, Lisanne M. ; Ampe, Bart ; Rodenburg, Bas ; Reubens, Bert ; Maselyne, Jarissa ; Zhuang, Shaojie ; Criel, Johan ; Tuyttens, Frank A.M. - \ 2018
    Applied Animal Behaviour Science 201 (2018). - ISSN 0168-1591 - p. 31 - 39.
    Accuracy - Outdoor - Poultry - Signal reception - Ultra-wideband - Vegetation
    Free-range use in chickens is often suboptimal, and the full potential of outdoor access for chicken welfare may not be achieved. Many studies use visual observations of free-range use, imposing several limitations. An automated system capable of continuously monitoring the location of multiple individual birds over a long time period has the potential to increase the amount and accuracy of the gathered data. Therefore, the aim of this study was to test a newly developed Ultra-Wideband system for monitoring the position of chickens with free-range access. This system consists of active tags (attached to the chickens) that send signals to anchors positioned at fixed locations in the field; the tags' position can be calculated using the time of arrival of their signal. The effects of vegetation type, precipitation, tags being mounted on a chicken, tag height, angle and orientation, coverage by A-frames or mobile chicken houses, and proximity of other tags on accuracy of the registered positions (distance between the registered and the true position of the tag) and on registration success (percentage of registrations where a position could be calculated) were assessed. Overall, the median error was 0.29 m, which was below the aim of 0.5 m, and the mean percentage of successful registered positions was 68%. None of the variables had a clear effect on the accuracy of the positions. Errors were generally larger in certain areas of the experimental field, which may be due to the asymmetrical setup of the anchors. The percentage of successful registrations was negatively affected by shelter type, with lower percentages in dense vegetation (short rotation coppice willows; SRCW) than on grassland, possibly due to malfunctioning of two anchors close to the SRCW plots. Rain and placing the tags underneath a wooden A-frame, but not placing them in a mobile house, resulted in a lower percentage of successful registrations. The tag being mounted on a chicken, height and angle of the tag and proximity of other tags had no negative effect on the percentage of successful registrations. Placing more (functioning) anchors may contribute to better accuracy and registration success. Alternatively, the bias resulting from the variables that had a negative effect on registration success could be corrected for when using the system in its current setup. Overall, this system shows great promise for monitoring chickens' free-range use.
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