White broiler chickens with red combs

OPTICFLOCK Camera/Computer System Advances Broiler Chicken Welfare 

Generating Advanced Animal Systems Solutions

Program Contact

Nikki Dutta

Year Awarded   2022

Total award amount   $325,000

Location   Oxford, United Kingdom

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

Marian Dawkins with the University of Oxford is receiving $325,000, with additional in-kind support provided by Munters and Tyson Foods, to refine and extend the testing of a novel camera and computer system called OPTIFLOCK. The project is comparing key welfare outcomes, including hockburn, foot pad lesions and lameness, in commercial flocks managed with or without the technology and incorporates strategies to facilitate producer adoption of OPTIFLOCK technology.

Anticipated Outcomes

  • A tool that monitors the welfare of broiler chickens throughout life, providing early warning of welfare problems
  • A robust demonstration of the welfare benefits of the technology that will convince producers to adopt it
  • Collaboration with the Munters Corporation, which will facilitate wide-scale adoption and welfare information to be integrated with other measures
  • Data mining of large-scale data sets on poultry health and welfare

How This Research Contributes to Our Missions

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.

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