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Leuven, Belgium

Youssef A.,M3 BIORES Measure | Exadaktylos V.,M3 BIORES Measure | Berckmans D.A.,M3 BIORES Measure
Biosystems Engineering | Year: 2015

Monitoring and controlling some behavioural responses such as the activity level and position of broiler chickens in broiler houses could provide an inexpensive tool with the potential to improve broiler welfare, health, energy consumption and product quality. The main objective of this paper is to examine the possibility of controlling chickens' activity level and position in a small chamber via controlling the surrounding micro-environment. A small ventilated test chamber was used. In this study real-time modelling was used to predict the dynamic activity index of broilers in relation to variations in the inlet temperature and ventilation rate. Step inputs in both ventilation rate and inlet air temperature were applied and temperature at 30 sensor locations was recorded. The chamber was populated with 9 chickens (age 7 days). A digital CCD camera that was mounted on the top of the chamber was used to capture the birds' positions and motion. Images were captured with a resolution of 640 by 480 pixels at a 1 Hz frame rate. The airflow pattern inside the chamber was investigated by conducting a set of smoke experiments. Software was developed to calculate the activity level of all chickens in real-time. The dynamic variation of activity index of chickens was compared to the two-dimensional spatial profile of temperature and the airflow pattern inside the chamber. Real-time models are defined to describe the dynamic responses of the chickens' activity to changes in the micro-environmental temperature. The resulting models are the basis for a model-based predictive controller of chickens' activity. The mathematical basis for a model-based predictive control system is defined in this paper. © 2015 IAgrE. Source

Youssef A.,M3 BIORES Measure | Viazzi S.,M3 BIORES Measure | Exadaktylos V.,M3 BIORES Measure | Berckmans D.,M3 BIORES Measure
Biosystems Engineering | Year: 2014

The chicken embryo provides an excellent model organism for physiological and developmental biology studies. The chick chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) is widely used to study angiogenesis and vasculogenesis in primary tumour growth. The cardiovascular system is the first organ system to form and function in the developing embryo. Heart rate (HR) is deemed to be an important physiological parameter in such studies. The heart rate of the developing embryo can be very informative in developmental studies of cardiac rhythm. Many studies have considered developing techniques to measure avian embryonic heart rate from incubated eggs. However, the existing techniques disturb the incubation process and/or are sensitive to embryonic motion. A novel non-contact, semi-invasive, and motion-tolerant technique to measuring embryonic heart rate from chicken eggs using video imaging and signal processing is described and implemented in this paper. The technique is based on videos captured from incubated eggs to recover heart rate signals. Heart rate is estimated using frequency analysis techniques and the values obtained are in agreement with results from the literature. The technique proposed in this paper provides a real-time approach to monitoring developmental embryonic heart rate. Also it can provide a promising technique for monitoring the developing vasculature in primary tumour growth. © 2014. Source

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