Chicken idea hatched
In a quest to improve poultry farming and the welfare of the chickens, two young Victorian women are developing a robot chicken.
Eleanor Toulmin and Sarah Last have developed a hen which is designed to teach behaviour to chickens which they would otherwise learn from their hen mothers.
Hens can’t be placed with chicks on commercial farms due to biosecurity issues, territorial behaviour of hens and stocking densities.
‘‘Chicks never receive maternal care which is important for development and socialisiation, so we created little robots you put into chicken farms which teach them to eat and drink in a nurturing environment, reuslting in increasing weight gain,’’ Eleanor Toulmin told the Australian Women In Agriculture conference.
She said their research indicated robot chickens would decrease mortality and increase growth rates in poultry farms.
Ms Toulmin desdcribed the approach as ‘‘win-win’’, with commercial and animal welfare advantages.
Their Mimic Tec company is still running prototype trials on farms around Australia.
Eleanor Toulmin, the co-founder of Mimic Tec.
Great ideas . . .