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Farm Animals May Be Protected by Video Technology

Farm Animals May Be Protected by Video Technology

Researchers in the UK are developing an observation system for farm animals using small cameras connected to computers. The cameras will be placed inside areas where animals are housed in order to observe their behaviors for signs of poor health. Data from the cameras will be sent to computers for storage and analysis.

“We have been working from the outset with industry partners to ensure that we develop something that is useful on commercial farms and is an improvement on the traditional ways of measuring the welfare of animal flocks,” said Professor Marian Dawkins from Oxford University. (Source:

They use the example of large numbers of  chickens living in sheds raised for food. Currently their health is monitored when personnel visit their spaces and observe them directly. Also their feet are examined, but only at the end of their lives. The new surveillance technology would allow multiple settings to be examined quickly and efficiently in real time, and gather much more data. There is additionally the potential for such a system to become automated, as software could detect certain unusual movements from chickens that are known to be signs of disease, … ill or injured birds disrupt the flow of movement and our camera set-up can detect that disruption and alert us quickly to any problems in the flock,” said Professor Dawkins. (Source:

In the United States, the use of video surveillance has been discussed for a similar purpose. The Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) sub-agency has only suggested the technology could be used though. Undercover video taping has been a key weapon for animal activists and animal welfare organizations in exposing the abuse, and neglect of many farm animals that is ongoing. The organization Free from Harm published an article recognizing the potential of permanently installed surveillance video to decrease farm animal abuses: “Video surveillance as a standard practice in the animal agriculture industry would be an important part of a solution to address the shortage of on-site inspectors necessary to monitor the some 9.5 billion animals slaughtered annually in this country for food. It would also provide a disincentive to would-be animal abusers.” (Source:

If the technology is used successfully in the UK, it certainly will provide some credible evidence for animal rights organizations in the United States to push for its adoption here also.

Funding for the animal welfare project comes from the Institute for Animal Health. The research organization seeks to improve the living conditions of farm animals and protect their health by eliminating viral diseases they contract. Their services may be more in demand as climate change allows more insects to move into newly warmer areas, and spread diseases to animals.

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4:43PM PDT on Apr 26, 2012

With of with out surveilance, people know when the animals are sick or not sick, so the spread of disease coudl be stopped -- as long as people take care learn how to prevent the disease and how to stop the spread of the disease -- and then take the needed actions to do so.

12:15AM PST on Jan 9, 2012

Thank you.

3:35PM PST on Jan 6, 2012

This is good ! Hope better to the animals lifes.
But better more "veganians".

8:57AM PST on Jan 6, 2012

knowledge is not power its empowering lets all be empowered
life has value beyond measure
Peace and Love

4:04AM PST on Nov 10, 2011

Thanks for the article.

4:43PM PDT on May 30, 2011

These should installed everywhere

1:41PM PDT on May 27, 2011

Although this sounds as if it could be a good idea, I can't help feeling that although the animals are being observed it won't necessarily mean a quick end to their suffering.

11:24PM PDT on Mar 24, 2011

stop harming animals

1:29PM PDT on Mar 17, 2011

These camera's should be installed permanently in all animal killing facilities. If you don't have the man power to watch what is going on you should install them and let people the (Consumers) decide if they would ever want to eat meat again.
Shame on all of you.

1:09PM PDT on Mar 14, 2011

Perhaps if these cameras were permanently installed they coulde be used as a deterant for the horrible abuse inflicted on farm animals. Kudos to the UK for a step in the right direction, but more simply must be done.

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