Section: Animal Science
Topic: Agricultural sciences, Applied biological sciences

Validation of a Radio frequency identification system for tracking location of laying hens in a quasi-commercial aviary system

10.24072/pcjournal.324 - Peer Community Journal, Volume 3 (2023), article no. e89.

Get full text PDF Peer reviewed and recommended by PCI

Cage-free housing is increasingly chosen in Europe, North America, and Australia as an animal-welfare friendly farm system for laying hens. However, hens are kept in large numbers in those systems which makes checking for health and welfare difficult and individuals cannot be identified. Tracking systems like radio frequency identification allow researchers to monitor these individuals almost continuously. Individual tracking data has revealed substantial individual variation in movement patterns, however, in recent studies, only a subset of animals per flock was tracked. We applied an RFID tracking system to monitor all 1125 laying hens of a flock, which were divided into 5 pens of 225 birds each in a barn with an aviary system. In each pen, 26 antennas were placed on the edges of three tiers and in the litter. For validation purposes, 3 hens in 2 connected pens were fitted with colored backpacks. They were recorded on video and their location throughout the pen was taken from the video and compared with registrations from the RFID system. For 93% of compared transitions, the RFID data matched the observational data regarding the tier or litter whereas the value fell to 39%  for specific antennae. When the antennae on the litter were excluded for the validation, the match on tier-level was at least 98% but on antenna-level it remained lower than 50%. The sensitivity of the detection of tiers/litter but not antennae differed among the three hens. We conclude that the RFID tracking system was suitable for studying the movement pattern of individual hens among tiers in an aviary system in a reliable way but tracking birds on the litter needs to be improved.

Published online:
DOI: 10.24072/pcjournal.324
Type: Research article
Keywords: RFID, laying hen, poultry, validation, tracking, aviary, accuracy
Gebhardt-Henrich, Sabine G. 1; Kashev, Alexander 2; Petelle, Matthew B. 1; Toscano, Michael J. 1

1 Center for Proper Housing: Poultry and Rabbits (ZTHZ), Division of Animal Welfare, VPH Institute, University of Bern, Burgerweg 22, 3052 Zollikofen, Switzerland
2 Data Science Lab (DSL), University of Bern, Sidlerstrasse 5, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
License: CC-BY 4.0
Copyrights: The authors retain unrestricted copyrights and publishing rights
     author = {Gebhardt-Henrich, Sabine G. and Kashev, Alexander and Petelle, Matthew B. and Toscano, Michael J.},
     title = {Validation of a {Radio} frequency identification system for tracking location of laying hens in a quasi-commercial aviary system},
     journal = {Peer Community Journal},
     eid = {e89},
     publisher = {Peer Community In},
     volume = {3},
     year = {2023},
     doi = {10.24072/pcjournal.324},
     language = {en},
     url = {}
AU  - Gebhardt-Henrich, Sabine G.
AU  - Kashev, Alexander
AU  - Petelle, Matthew B.
AU  - Toscano, Michael J.
TI  - Validation of a Radio frequency identification system for tracking location of laying hens in a quasi-commercial aviary system
JO  - Peer Community Journal
PY  - 2023
VL  - 3
PB  - Peer Community In
UR  -
DO  - 10.24072/pcjournal.324
LA  - en
ID  - 10_24072_pcjournal_324
ER  - 
%0 Journal Article
%A Gebhardt-Henrich, Sabine G.
%A Kashev, Alexander
%A Petelle, Matthew B.
%A Toscano, Michael J.
%T Validation of a Radio frequency identification system for tracking location of laying hens in a quasi-commercial aviary system
%J Peer Community Journal
%D 2023
%V 3
%I Peer Community In
%R 10.24072/pcjournal.324
%G en
%F 10_24072_pcjournal_324
Gebhardt-Henrich, Sabine G.; Kashev, Alexander; Petelle, Matthew B.; Toscano, Michael J. Validation of a Radio frequency identification system for tracking location of laying hens in a quasi-commercial aviary system. Peer Community Journal, Volume 3 (2023), article  no. e89. doi : 10.24072/pcjournal.324.

PCI peer reviews and recommendation, and links to data, scripts, code and supplementary information: 10.24072/pci.animsci.100193

Conflict of interest of the recommender and peer reviewers:
The recommender in charge of the evaluation of the article and the reviewers declared that they have no conflict of interest (as defined in the code of conduct of PCI) with the authors or with the content of the article.

[1] Ali, A. B.; Campbell, D. L.; Siegford, J. M. A risk assessment of health, production, and resource occupancy for 4 laying hen strains across the lay cycle in a commercial-style aviary system, Poultry Science (2020) | DOI

[2] Blatchford, R. A.; Fulton, R. M.; Mench, J. A. The utilization of the Welfare Quality assessment for determining laying hen condition across three housing systems, Poultry Science, Volume 95 (2015) no. 1, pp. 154-163 | DOI

[3] Brown-Brandl, T. M.; Adrion, F.; Maselyne, J.; Kapun, A.; Hessel, E. F.; Saeys, W.; van Nuffel, A.; Gallmann, E. A Review of Passive Radio Frequency Identification Systems for Animal Monitoring in Livestock Facilities, Applied Engineering in Agriculture, Volume 35 (2019) no. 4, pp. 579-591 | DOI

[4] Candelotto, L.; Grethen, K. J.; Montalcini, C. M.; Toscano, M. J.; Gómez, Y. Tracking performance in poultry is affected by data cleaning method and housing system, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Volume 249 (2022), p. 105597 | DOI

[5] Gebhardt-Henrich, S. G.; Fröhlich, E. K.; Burose, F.; Fleurent, J.; Gantner, M.; Zähner, M. Individual tracking of laying hens with an RFID-System, Landtechnik, Volume 69 (2014) no. 6, pp. 301-306

[6] Iserbyt, A.; Griffioen, M.; Borremans, B.; Eens, M.; Müller, W. How to quantify animal activity from radio-frequency identification (RFID) recordings, Ecology and Evolution, Volume 8 (2018) no. 20, pp. 10166-10174 | DOI

[7] Li, G.; Zhao, Y.; Hailey, R.; Zhang, N.; Liang, Y.; Purswell, J. L. An ultra-high frequency radio frequency identification system for studying individual feeding and drinking behaviors of group-housed broilers, animal, Volume 13 (2019) no. 9, pp. 2060-2069 | DOI

[8] Li, N.; Ren, Z.; Li, D.; Zeng, L. Review: Automated techniques for monitoring the behaviour and welfare of broilers and laying hens: towards the goal of precision livestock farming, animal, Volume 14 (2020) no. 3, pp. 617-625 | DOI

[9] Louton, H.; Bergmann, S. M.; Rauch, E.; Liebers, C.; Reese, S.; Erhard, M. H.; Hoeborn, C.; Schwarzer, A. Evaluation of welfare parameters in laying hens on the basis of a Bavarian survey, Poultry science, Volume 96 (2017), pp. 3199-3213 | DOI

[10] Montalcini, C. M.; Voelkl, B.; Gómez, Y.; Gantner, M.; Toscano, M. J. Evaluation of an Active LF Tracking System and Data Processing Methods for Livestock Precision Farming in the Poultry Sector, Volume 22 (2022) no. 2 | DOI

[11] Morrison, L. W. Nonsampling error in vegetation surveys: understanding error types and recommendations for reducing their occurrence, Plant Ecology, Volume 222 (2021) no. 5, pp. 577-586 | DOI

[12] Neethirajan, S. Automated Tracking Systems for the Assessment of Farmed Poultry, Volume 12 (2022) no. 3 | DOI

[13] Olsson, A. Tracking large numbers of hens in aviary housing: validation of a Radio Frequency Identification system, Peer Community in Animal Science (2023) | DOI

[14] Platz, S.; Heyn, E.; Hergt, F.; Weigl, B.; Erhard, P. D. M. Comparative study on the behaviour, health and productivity of laying hens in furnished cages and aviary housing systems, Berliner Münchner Tierärztliche Wochenschrift, Volume 122 (2009) no. 7/8, pp. 235-240

[15] Ringgenberg, N.; Fröhlich, E. K.; Harlander-Matauschek, A.; Toscano, M. J.; Würbel, H.; Roth, B. A. Effects of variation in nest curtain design on pre-laying behaviour of domestic hens, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Volume 170 (2015) | DOI

[16] Rufener, C.; Berezowski, J.; Maximiano Sousa, F.; Abreu, Y.; Asher, L.; Toscano, M. J. Finding hens in a haystack: Consistency of movement patterns within and across individual laying hens maintained in large groups, Scientific Reports, Volume 8 (2018) no. 1, p. 12303 | DOI

[17] Rufener, C.; Abreu, Y.; Asher, L.; Berezowski, J. A.; Maximiano Sousa, F.; Stratmann, A.; Toscano, M. J. Keel bone fractures are associated with individual mobility of laying hens in an aviary system, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Volume 217 (2019), pp. 48-56 | DOI

[18] SAS Institute Inc. SAS/STAT Version 9.4, Cary, NC: SAS Institute Inc., 2016

[19] Sales, G. T.; Green, A. R.; Gates, R. S.; Brown-Brandl, T. M.; Eigenberg, R. A. Quantifying detection performance of a passive low-frequency RFID system in an environmental preference chamber for laying hens, Computers and Electronics in Agriculture, Volume 114 (2015), pp. 261-268 | DOI

[20] Sibanda, T. Z.; Walkden-Brown, S. W.; Kolakshyapati, M.; Dawson, B.; Schneider, D.; Welch, M.; Iqbal, Z.; Cohen-Barnhouse, A.; Morgan, N. K.; Boshoff, J.; Ruhnke, I. Flock use of the range is associated with the use of different components of a multi-tier aviary system in commercial free-range laying hens, British Poultry Science, Volume 61 (2019) no. 2, pp. 97-106 | DOI

[21] Sibanda, T. Z.; Dawson, B.; Welch, M.; Schneider, D.; Boshoff, J.; Kolakshyapati, M.; Ruhnke, I. Validation of a radio frequency identification (RFID) systems for aviary systems (

[22] Siegford, J. M.; Berezowski, J.; Biswas, S. K.; Daigle, C. L.; Gebhardt-Henrich, S. G.; Hernandez, C. E.; Thurner, S.; Toscano, M. J. Assessing Activity and Location of Individual Laying Hens in Large Groups Using Modern Technology, Animals , Volume 6 (2016) no. 2 | DOI

[23] van der Sluis, M.; de Haas, Y.; de Klerk, B.; Rodenburg, T. B.; Ellen, E. D. Assessing the Activity of Individual Group-Housed Broilers Throughout Life Using a Passive Radio Frequency Identification System—A Validation Study, Sensors (Basel, Switzerland), Volume 20 (2020) no. 13 | DOI

[24] Wang, K.; Liu, K.; Xin, H.; Chai, L.; Wang, Y.; Fei, T.; Oliveira, J.; Pan, J.; Ying, Y. An RFID-Based Automated Individual Perching Monitoring System for Group-Housed Poultry, Transactions of the ASABE, Volume 62 (2019) no. 3, pp. 695-704 | DOI

[25] ZTHZ Validation of a Radio frequency identification system for tracking location of laying hens in a commercial aviary. , OSF, 2023 | DOI

[26] Zhang, F. Y.; Hu, Y. M.; Chen, L. C.; Guo, L. H.; Duan, W. J.; Wang, L. Monitoring behavior of poultry based on RFID radio frequency network, International Journal of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Volume 9 (2016) no. 6, pp. 139-147 | DOI

Cited by Sources: