Review of sensor technologies in animal breeding: Phenotyping behaviors of laying hens to select against feather pecking

Ellen, Esther D.; Sluis, Malou Van Der; Siegford, Janice; Guzhva, Oleksiy; Toscano, Michael J.; Bennewitz, Jörn; Zande, Lisette E. Van Der; Eijk, Jerine A.J. Van Der; Haas, Elske N. de; Norton, Tomas; Piette, Deborah; Tetens, Jens; Klerk, Britt de; Visser, Bram; Bas Rodenburg, T.


Damaging behaviors, like feather pecking (FP), have large economic and welfare consequences in the commercial laying hen industry. Selective breeding can be used to obtain animals that are less likely to perform damaging behavior on their pen-mates. However, with the growing tendency to keep birds in large groups, identifying specific birds that are performing or receiving FP is difficult. With current developments in sensor technologies, it may now be possible to identify laying hens in large groups that show less FP behavior and select them for breeding. We propose using a combination of sensor technology and genomic methods to identify feather peckers and victims in groups. In this review, we will describe the use of “-omics” approaches to understand FP and give an overview of sensor technologies that can be used for animal monitoring, such as ultra-wideband, radio frequency identification, and computer vision. We will then discuss the identification of indicator traits from both sensor technologies and genomics approaches that can be used to select animals for breeding against damaging behavior.