AI Technology to Advance Animal Welfare
Thu, February 2, 2023

AI Technology to Advance Animal Welfare

IMAGEN (AnIMAl Group SENsor) project uses sensing and AI technologies to detect and analyze animal behavior. / Photo Credits: metamorworks via Shutterstock


If there’s one thing that the majority of us care about is animals, especially with the increasing consumption of livestock animals such as chickens, cows, pigs, and more. Thus, many organizations and companies are working to develop welfare-friendly systems for these animals to understand their behavior. It’s important to understand their social interactions to prevent harmful animal tendencies such as tail biting in swine and feather pecking in laying hens.

For instance, Hendrix Genetics, a multi-species animal breeding, genetics, and technology company, joined the IMAGEN (AnIMAl Group SENsor) project which aims to improve the health and welfare of livestock and reduce the ecological footprint of our food production. According to Feedstuffs, animal agriculture's leading source of news, information, and analysis on the important issues affecting the business of producing protein, the study will combine sensing and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. 

Katrijn Peeters, a research geneticist with Hendrix Genetics who wrote the announcement, stated that sensing and AI technologies offer a crucial opportunity to develop new methods in detecting and analyzing animal behavior. A better understanding of social interactions between animals in social groups will result in reduced instances of harmful animal tendencies such as feather pecking in laying hens and tail biting in swine,” she said. 

In five years, the project would work with three main tasks. This includes developing sensing and AI technologies for automated behavior detection in laying hens; conducting behavioral research of the emergence and spread of behaviors in laying hens, and preparing genetic modeling of the emergence and spread of behaviors in laying hens. Peeters stated that the result would be a prototype hardware/software system.

"Building on the data generated by these technologies, we will develop mathematical models and data analysis methods to understand the behavior of groups of animals and identify the genetic and environmental factors determining the health, welfare and ecological footprint of livestock. It will allow us to breed for improved future generations of animals," she added.