October 27, 2020


Poultry industry looks into use of robots at virtual US event


Speakers at the 55th annual National Poultry Health, Processing and Live Production Conference, which was held virtually this year, discussed the use of robots in the poultry industry, such as for deboning chicken in seconds or to patrol poultry houses for dead birds or eggs, Lancaster Online reported.


Colin Usher, from the Georgia Tech Research Institute, said robots will not eliminate the need for farmers, but could reduce their time in poultry houses, lowering the possible spread of bird-related diseases such as avian influenza.


Usher said the robots can be used to disinfect poultry houses or nudge chickens to keep them moving. Videos showed the robots nudging the birds non-aggressively, as well as used to disinfect and measure the poultry house's measure temperature, humidity, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.


He said the robots could find 90% of eggs in a house between 20 seconds to a minute.


Drones could be implemented to spot dead birds, with the information sent to the robots. The drones could also be used to administer aerosol vaccines while the birds slept.


Usher said Europe is ahead of the United States in the use of robots in the poultry industry because of chicken's higher cost there.


Attendees asked about security issues, and speakers replied that it could be an issue that farmers need to consider as they are only password protected.


Dr. Ai-Ping Hu, also from the Georgia Tech Research Institute, discussed his research that focused on developing robots that could debone chickens precisely on processing lines, which could be done within seconds.

The technology uses 3-D imaging of individual birds, allowing robots with knives to accurately cut the birds.


The robots could debone 15 chickens per minute, 75% of their capacity. The robot's precision can save valuable meat as the birds have different weight, plus it could solve labour shortages.


Efforts are underway to make the use of robotics more affordable. Usher said drones are readily available for around US$500 but the issue is its short battery life.


-      Lancaster Online