Moving GIS research indoors: spatiotemporal analysis of agricultural animals.
Additional Document Info
A proof of concept applying wildlife ecology techniques to animal welfare science in intensive agricultural environments was conducted using non-cage laying hens. Studies of wildlife ecology regularly use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to assess wild animal movement and behavior within environments with relatively unlimited space and finite resources. However, rather than depicting landscapes, a GIS could be developed in animal production environments to provide insight into animal behavior as an indicator of animal welfare. We developed a GIS-based approach for studying agricultural animal behavior in an environment with finite space and unlimited resources. Concurrent data from wireless body-worn location tracking sensor and video-recording systems, which depicted spatially-explicit behavior of hens (135 hens/room) in two identical indoor enclosures, were collected. The spatial configuration of specific hen behaviors, variation in home range patterns, and variation in home range overlap show that individual hens respond to the same environment differently. Such information could catalyze management practice adjustments (e.g., modifying feeder design and/or location). Genetically-similar hens exhibited diverse behavioral and spatial patterns via a proof of concept approach enabling detailed examinations of individual non-cage laying hen behavior and welfare.