My Problem: To optimize my egg production costs, I want to determine which hens in my small flock are not producing eggs. I have 10-11 chickens which could be laying, but the most eggs I have been gifted with in 1 day is 8. Are all these creatures earning their keep?
Feature set: RF ID tags on each bird; 1 RFID reader/nesting box (3); 1 scale/nesting box; 1 cameras/nesting box; Data logging; WiFi; and Dashboard;
I found a nice inexpensive digital form on amazon.com that does not require a 'pre-step' to calibrate, rather has a 'step on start up'. The scale also has 4 load cells which should provide good accuracy. As the scale is the hardest of all features (I think) as I have not found a 'scale shield' or kit, this is the first feature to be implemented.
I have purchased some start up material: A couple of RFID tags of different sizes, an RF ID reader; a data logging shield, the scale, some jumpers and a breadboard. I pulled LEDs, resistors, jumpers, soldering equipment, etc. from storage.
I have also played with the IDE environment and the Galileo board a bit ... only blinking lights at this point. I hope to have a bit more time this weekend. My goal will be to understand the performance of the scale, determine amplification and stabilization requirements. I also will engage my son in measuring the weight of several dozen eggs to determine typical range of egg weights to be expected. (egg weight is a by product of the algorithm along with some additional hen health metrics which can be tracked.
My Plans: Each chicken will have an RFID tag attached to it's leg band. When the RFID reader senses the chicken in the nesting box, the event will logged with a date time stamp. A camera in the front of the nesting box will be triggered to take and save a time stamped picture (to enable manual validation of the RFID event). The scale reading will be saved. The scale will continue to be sampled every 10-20 sec. When the scale drops, a time-stamped event for the chicken departing the nesting box will be logged. The post entry scale reading will be compared to the pre-entry scale reading; if the delta between these two readings is within the typical egg weight distribution, and time stamped egg-laying event will be associated with the last hen in the nesting box, and the event logged. A top down camera will capture a top down picture of the nesting box (used to enable manual validation of the the egg laying event call).
Data Collected: pre-scale-reading; hen-in-nesting-box-weight; post-hen-scale-reading;
Calculated Values: Egg Weight, Hen Weight, Eggs/time period for each hen; time to lay an egg; time between egg laying events; eggs/time period/nesting boc;
Stretch Goals: System to send tweets to record each event, Alarm signal in house when an egg is laid, environmental monitoring and controls.
Plans: Develop scale/weight system, develop RFID capability, integrate scale algorithm with RFID capability, Add camera shots, develop the nesting box prototype; develop the data transfer capabilities and dashboard. Re-build the real nesting box to fit the scale, set up the system in production.