INTRODUCING THE ‘FITBIT’ FOR CHICKENS
RESEARCHERS AT the University of California, Riverside have come up with the latest new wearable technology — this time for our feathered friends. Dubbed the ‘Fitbit’ for chickens (right), it is a sensing technology designed to track the behaviours of egg-laying hens and broiler chickens on farms to ensure high standards of welfare.
Researchers hope that in assessing the health of birds they can use the information gained to improve the welfare of chickens in farms across the US and beyond.
The particular aim of the device is to detect the presence of ectoparasites, including red mite and northern fowl mite. These arthropods reside on the body of the bird causing a great deal of stress and irritation in some cases. These parasites, although common, can be difficult to detect until the situation is severe — something researchers hope to rectify.
Attached to the chicken, the wearable device monitors behaviours widely believed or proved to be associated with happy chickens. Researchers hope that in first identifying behaviours of healthy birds, they will subsequently narrow down the behaviour of birds suffering from the effects of ectoparasites.
The Fitbit for chickens uses sensing technology designed to track the behaviours of egg-laying hens and broiler chickens