Farmers can save on production costs, detect diseases and know the output of individual chickens in real time via mobile telephone by installing smart technology in poultry cages.
Domotele Technology’s Machine to machine (M2M) system is customised to alert farmers of any health risk as well as the performance of each chicken. Installed sensors collect the health or production data before relaying it to a safe domain in the cloud for the farmer to access it via the Internet. The Internet of things system can also be instructed to process the data and relay it in form of a short message service (SMS) for those who do not have Internet.
Domotele Technology Internet of Things consultant Alfred Ahuta said installed sensors in cages help farmers know which chicken laid an egg on a given day. They also know the total number of eggs laid by the end of the day. “The technology helps farmers know which hens are not laying. Such hens can be culled to avoid wasting feeds.
Besides, farmers know the number of eggs produced per day; workers cannot steal eggs because they are counted and an immediate alert is sent to the owner wherever they are,” Ahuta said. The project has been implemented on chickens, but it can also work with other egg-laying poultry such as turkeys. There are 1,500 nesting cages housing two chickens each, and this is where the majority of the technology roosts. There are 3,000 chicken with one blocked off for technology use.
The nesting cages have radio frequency identification (RFID) readers and weight sensors that track the contents inside and can determine if a hen has laid an egg. This puts into motion the egg counter process. RFID tags are intelligent bar codes that can ‘talk’ to a networked system to track every product that you buy in the supermarket for instance when you are checking out.
The system can be customised to notify farmers of a diseases outbreak through a wireless sense node tag as well as change of the cage environment. Most farmers learn of an outbreak after chickens start dying. Early disease notification alerts the farmer to take quick action to prevent further spread.
If the sensors detect that the temperature in the cage has gone above the set threshold, for instance 25°C, the farmer receives a notification into their smart phones. “They can turn on fans with the smart phone from wherever they are. The fans run until the required temperature is achieved,” Ahuta said.
Internet of about Shs2,000 daily can support the communication of the data from the sensors to the main device, which relays the information to the Internet cloud. The cost of installing the system depends on the number of chickens and the complexity of customisation one may require.