Little chickens - Birds are reared indoors in separate chicken houses where the solid floor is covered with fresh litter.

Artificial intelligence monitoring the welfare of Kariniemen chickens

The behaviour and welfare of broiler chickens will be modelled and monitored on the Agrofood Ecosystem® pilot farm. Ensuring the welfare of animals always requires the human eye but, at best, new technologies can provide new perspectives. For example, the cameras can monitor the broiler chickens and conditions even when the farmer is not present.

Animal welfare research has developed rapidly in recent years, constantly providing new information. Based on recent studies, animal behaviour is considered to be an increasingly important part of animal welfare. In broiler chickens, the key behavioural patterns are considered to be, for example, pecking, bathing in dust bathing and preening. Not much research has been conducted on the behaviour of broilers during rearing in the North.

kamera AFES Kiiski

AI cameras collecting information on the chicken

In early 2021, smart cameras were installed in the rearing hall of the Kiiski farm, one of the Kariniemen Kotitila farms. The cameras are used to monitor and collect information on the behaviour and activity of broiler chickens during the spring 2021.

Aim to identify behavioural patterns

At first, the project aims to teach the AI cameras to observe the key behavioural patterns of broiler chickens on the Kiiski farm. In the spring 2021, we will be able to follow the chickens’ activity and behaviour through the cameras 24/7 during the rearing.

Broiler stimuli 

The purpose of the work is not only to monitor the chicken behaviour. Based on the results, we can also develop, for example, new stimuli on the farm level, which help strengthen certain behaviours when necessary.

Already today, broiler chickens have different types of stimuli in use, such as perches, shiny washers hanging on strings and half floorball balls as well as scales functioning as swings. Broilers are also activated by peat litter containing pieces of wood and root systems and by wholegrains of the compound feed, which enable the realisation of food seeking behaviour.

The aim is to use the results of this pilot project on all Kariniemen Kotitila farms and later, on HKScan’s contract farms in Denmark and Estonia.

Developing animal welfare together with partners

We do the Agrofood Ecosystem® work together with our partners. In addition to the Kiiski farm, our broiler welfare work involves the experts of the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke). The AI camera technology and data modelling are handled by Empirica.