A novel method to automatically measure the feed intake of broiler chickens by sound technology

Aydin A., Bahr C., Viazzi S., Exadaktylos V., Buyse J., Berckmans D.

COMPUTERS AND ELECTRONICS IN AGRICULTURE, vol.101, pp.17-23, 2014 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier


This paper proposes a novel method to automatically measure the feed intake quantity of broiler chickens by sound technology. In this research, an algorithm was developed to detect individual pecking sounds of broiler chickens. Afterwards, the relation between pecking sounds and the amount of feed intake was investigated. The results of the algorithm were compared to reference feed intake values obtained through weighing scale measurements and video observations. The pecking sounds of 12 individual, 28 days old, male broiler chickens (Ross-308) were recorded during 15 min in three consecutive days by a microphone that was attached to the feeding pen. Three laboratory experiments were conducted with each broiler resulting in a total of 36 experiments. Each chicken was deprived from food for four hours prior the experiment. During experiments, feed uptake quantity was automatically recorded using a weighing system. Feed wastage of chicken was manually collected and weighed after each experiment. Based on the measurements of feed uptake and feed wastage, the feed intake of broilers was calculated and used for the validation of the proposed algorithm. The results show that 93% of the pecking sounds were correctly identified by algorithm, whereas 7% of the identification results were false positives. In addition to pecking sound identification the relation among feed uptake, feed intake and number of peckings was calculated. A linear relation was found among these three variables. A linear regression test was performed to define the coefficient of determination between the number of peckings and the amount of feed uptake of chickens, which resulted in (R-2 = 0.995). Furthermore, the relation between the amount of feed intake and the number of peckings (pecking frequency) was investigated and the coefficient of determination R-2 was 0.985. In addition to the high relation, 90% of feed intake was correctly monitored using sound analysis.