Chicken idea hatched

Shepparton News - Country News - - WOMEN IN AGRICULTURE -

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 . . .

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