Study examines game camera use on poultry farm for biosecurity
website builder Inexpensive game cameras installed on turkey farms can reveal important biosecurity information, but it comes with some caveats, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota.
In a study initially designed to investigate Salmonella outbreaks, the results gave scientists interesting insights about movement on and off the farm.
After reviewing hours of round-the-clock images, they discovered wild animals and birds regularly visited the farm, while visitor logs rarely matched the number of people coming to the farm — issues that could potentially lead to biosecurity breaks if appropriate measures weren’t in place.
The project involved six Minnesota turkey farms, including three breeder and three grow-finish sites. One camera was used on each farm to capture bird movements during migration in fall 2018, spring 2019 and fall 2019.
The motion-sensing cameras were on 24 hours a day, and researchers moved cameras around to capture birds from different angles.
During the review and documentation of some 9,000 images collected throughout the study, the project revealed helpful information about the use of the cameras, said biosystems engineer Erin Cortus, PhD, who was involved in the study.
The researchers saw 73 images of mammals across the farms, with 80% occurring outside the farms’ work hours. Deer were most common, but they also saw house cats, racoons and coyotes.
“[But] those mammals were nothing compared to the birds captured in pictures,” Cortus said. “There were 1,200 images with [wild] birds in them. And there could be more than one bird in an image.”
In addition to animals, the scientists also logged human activity around the site, noting maintenance workers as well as visitors.
What the researchers did see was a disconnect between visitor logs and what actually occurred. “When we had visitor-log activities, it rarely coincided with when we saw images of humans,” Cortus said. This happened on all the farms but was also related to the camera angle at the time.
“We do feel cameras are a tool for biosecurity and are complementary to practices like visitor logs,” she added.
How to use cameras
If growers want to use cameras, Cortus suggested first deciding what they want to capture. For wild-bird activity, cameras pointed at the roof ridge where they roost will suffice. But if the farm wants to capture other animal and human activity, cameras should be focused on the areas around buildings and roads.
While the research cameras ran 24 hours a day during the monitoring periods, growers may not need that much coverage, according to Cortus. Half of the images were trashed because cameras were triggered by moving branches, snow and blowing grass.
If growers want to check on bird traffic, Cortus suggested using a set frequency, such as every 10 to 15 minutes and taking images only during the daytime. But motion triggering may still be best for monitoring human behavior.
“Even putting out cameras for a short period of time can provide a lot of valuable information,” Cortus added. “Cameras are one way to maintain biosecurity of the farm. But there’s also privacy and making sure people know the cameras are in use.”
Her last suggestion is to review the images quickly to get the most value out of them.
Posted on December 9, 2022