The pattern of body weight gain during the commercial growing of broiler chickens is important to understand growth and feed conversion ratio of each flock.
The application of sound analysis techniques has been widely studied to measure and analyze the amplitude and frequency of animal sounds. Previous studies have shown a significant correlation (P ≤ 0.001) between the frequency of vocalization and the age and weight of broilers. Therefore, the aim of this study was to identify and validate a model that describes the growth rate of broiler chickens based on the peak frequency of their vocalizations and to explore the possibility to develop a tool capable of automatically detecting the growth of the chickens based on the frequency of their vocalizations during the production cycle. It is part of an overall goal to develop a Precision Livestock Farming tool that assists farmers in monitoring the growth of broiler chickens during the production cycle. In the present study, sounds and body weight were continuously recorded in an intensive broiler farm during 5 production cycles. For each cycle the peak frequencies of the chicken vocalizations were used to estimate the weight and then they were compared with the observed weight of the birds automatically measured using on farm automated weighing devices. No significant difference is shown between expected and observed weights along the entire production cycles; this trend was confirmed by the correlation coefficient between expected and observed weights (r = 96%, P value ≤ 0.001).
The identified model used to predict the weight as a function of the peak frequency confirmed that bird weight might be predicted by the frequency analysis of the sounds emitted at farm level. Even if the precision of the weighing method based on sounds investigated in this study has to be improved, it gives a reasonable indication regarding the growth of broilers opening a new scenario in monitoring systems in broiler houses.