White broiler chickens with red combs

FlockFocus Camera-Based Technology Advances Broiler Chicken Welfare 

Generating Advanced Animal Systems Solutions

Program Contact

Nikki Dutta

Year Awarded   2022

Total award amount   $1,000,000

Location   Belfast, Northern Ireland

Program   SMART Broiler

Matching Funders   McDonald’s Corporation

  • Advanced Animal Systems

Why this research is important

By identifying automated Sensors, Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technologies (SMART) solutions that can replace human observation and subjective scoring, the SMART Broiler initiative can enhance the welfare for 9 billion birds annually in the US and improve producer profitability. 

This project is one of three selected from the six research projects funded in Phase I to receive a total of $1.625 million in Phase II of the SMART Broiler program. In this phase, researchers will optimize hardware and software configurations, advance data management and processing tools for measuring key welfare indicators and justify commercial investment in these new welfare monitoring tools. The technologies will be tested at two broiler producing barns, Tyson Foods Broiler Research Barn in Arkansas and Master Good in Kisvárda, Hungary.

FFAR is pleased to provide further support in Phase II of the SMART Broiler program to these bold projects that are developing technologies to meet consumer and producer demand for increased animal welfare, while helping farmers more efficiently produce one of the world’s most consumed meats. Saharah Moon Chapotin, Ph.D.
Executive Director

Details About this Research

Niamh O’Connell with Queen’s University Belfast is receiving $1 million, with additional in-kind support provided by Moy Park, to transfer intelligent surveillance techniques used for tracking humans to provide real time monitoring of individual birds within a flock. This camera-based technology, called FlockFocus, represents a significant improvement to monitoring technology currently available to the industry and has the potential for revolutionising animal welfare in other sectors.


The main objective is to develop a vision-based system that enables real-time monitoring of the welfare of housed broilers. This will involve a network of static cameras providing a continuous count of birds in different areas, detecting whether each bird is standing or lying and determining feather dirtiness. Movement bouts will also be tracked. Play behavior and gait score will be recorded automatically when farmers walk through the house, using pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras for gait scoring. The ability to provide detailed information on individuals within large groups marks an industry step-change and has relevance to other livestock sectors.

How This Research Contributes to Our Mission

This SMART Broiler Phase II research project supports FFAR’s Advanced Animal Systems Challenge Area by improving animal health and welfare and pioneering practices that sustain our food system.

Matching Funders: Additional SMART Broiler Phase II Support

To further support SMART Broiler, Accenture is providing program management, cloud services and technical consulting support to the Phase II awardees. USPOULTRY has also awarded $100,000 in sponsorship to SMART Broiler, demonstrating the strong support from the US broiler industry for this initiative. In kind support, in terms of access to broiler facilities, is being provided by processors.

The Latest


As an inclusive organization, we host Insights from thought leaders across for food and agriculture community on DEI. Learn more about their unique experiences and perspectives.

See all Insights


The latest news and updates from FFAR.

See all News


Tools, technologies and strategies from the research we fund.

See all Breakthroughs

Want to do more to support our pioneering research?

Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest updates.