Chickens with Fitbits. Future of farming.

Digital Trends looks at how wearable devices could revolutionize farming and keep chickens healthier:

Sitting neatly between these two size extremes is a new project coming out of the University of California, Riverside. Researchers there have developed a sort of “Fitbit for chickens.” It’s essentially a miniature backpack that’s capable of analyzing behavior — such as revealing if a chicken is pecking, preening, or dust-bathing — with an accuracy level of more than 85 percent. This is thanks to an algorithm trained on data gathered during the study. Crucially, the algorithm can also inform when something goes wrong, such as an outbreak of blood-drinking parasites.

” In our study, we used sensors with 3-axis accelerometers to track chicken movement. These sensors are worn by chickens and can collect data for long periods of time — continuously for up to two weeks on one battery charge,” [said researcher Amy Murillo].

Alireza Abdoli, who also worked on the project, notes that the plan is not that every chicken is outfitted with its own sensor.

“We are interested in knowing how ectoparasite infestations — mites or lice — impact chicken behaviors,” Murillo said. “So our next step is to use these sensors on birds with or without infestations to see if there are detectable behavioral differences.”

[via Outside]