ChickTrack - A Quantitative Tracking Tool for Measuring Chicken Activity
The automatic detection, counting and tracking of individual and flocked chickens in the poultry industry is of paramount to enhance farming productivity and animal welfare. Due to methodological difficulties, such as the complex background of images, varying lighting conditions, and occlusions from e.g., feeding stations, water nipple stations and barriers in the chicken rearing production floor, it is a challenging task to automatically recognize and track birds using computer software. Here, a deep learning model based on You Only Look Once (Yolov5) is proposed for detecting domesticated chickens from videos with varying complex backgrounds. A multiscale feature is being adapted to the Yolov5 network for mapping modules in the counting and tracking of the trajectories of the chickens. The Yolov5 network was trained and tested on our dataset which resulted in an enhanced tracking precision accuracy. Using Kalman Filter, the proposed model was able to track multiple chickens simultaneously with the focus to associate individual chickens across the frames of the video for real time and online applications. By being able to detect the chickens amid diverse background interference and counting them precisely along with tracking the movement and measuring their travelled path and direction, the proposed model provides excellent performance for on-farm applications. Artificial intelligence enabled automatic measurements of chicken behavior on-farm using cameras offers continuous monitoring of the chicken's ability to perch, walk, interact with other birds and the farm environment, as well as the assessment of dustbathing, thigmotaxis, and foraging frequency, which are important indicators for their ability to express natural behaviors. This study highlights the potential of automated monitoring of poultry through the usage of ChickTrack model as a digital tool in enabling science-based animal husbandry practices and thereby promote positive welfare for chickens in animal farming.