2023 journal article
Continuous heart rate variability monitoring of freely moving chicken through a wearable electrocardiography recording system
POULTRY SCIENCE, 102(2).
Identification and quantification of stress and stress inducing factors are important components of animal welfare assessment and essential parts of poultry management. Measurement of the autonomic nervous system's influence on cardiac function using heart rate and heart rate variability (HR/HRV) indices can provide a non-invasive assessment of the welfare status of an animal. This paper presents a preliminary study showing the feasibility of continuous long-term measurement of HR/HRV indices in freely moving chicken. We developed and evaluated an electrocardiography (ECG) based HR/HRV recording system that can be used as a poultry wearable backpack for research studies. The backpack system was first validated against a commercial ECG amplifier, and the corresponding estimations of HR values matched well with each other. Then, an in vivo proof-of-concept experiment was conducted on floor-reared chickens to collect ECG data for 2 weeks. The extracted HR/HRV values show strong alignment with circadian patterns and well-defined sleep cycles. Wearable devices, like the backpack ECG system used in this study, may be best suited for application in freely moving poultry to get an insight into circadian abnormalities and sleep quality for stress and welfare management.