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Help with Chicken Monitoring =aka Chicken Net ideas

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by dretd, Feb 14, 2014.

  1. dretd

    dretd Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hey everyone, I have been kicking around the idea of figuring out some sort of chicken monitoring system at the coop. A nanny or web cam really wouldn't give me the info I am hoping for like who is using the nest box--or at least not presented in a time-friendly fashion.

    Hubby is a propeller-head and so we've been brainstorming ideas on features to try to include. I was wondering if anyone else has done the same thing and what they have found worked for them? Also wondering if you could help with brainstorming ideas of what you would want to have if you were going to set one up in your coop. I mean if we are going to go to the trouble of wiring up the coop, why not go all in and maximize the system?

    So if you were going to build a chicken net what features would you want to see?

    So far we have kicked around the following features:

    -Solar vs extension cord

    -Wireless vs SD card

    -RFID the chickens vs some sort of optical sensor

    -Monitor just the nest box use or when they go in and out of the hen house

    There are so many things to consider like it turns out if you do wireless is sucks up batteries so batteries alone wont work for that and solar might be too expensive, but my hen house is over 100 ft from my house so solar would be great if he can figure it out.

    So how about it? What features do you think you would want if you were spying on your chickens? What am I forgetting to consider?

    I would love to hear if you already have a monitoring system for your chickens or what things you think would be best for hubby to focus on for his first build?
     
  2. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Single camera or multiple? Timed to turn off at night if the coop is secure, saves batteries making solar more feasible.
     
  3. dretd

    dretd Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi Den and thanks for your reply! Do you have your coop monitored with cameras?

    What I was hoping is to not go through the camera route--I have a game cam but it really doesn't seem to give me the info I would like. I was thinking I wanted to simply have a record of which girls went into the nestbox and what time so that I could keep better track of who is laying and when.

    I also was thinking I could track trends about how much time each is spending outside vs inside, whether they are all in at night, what time they get up and go out in the am (I stopped shutting them in at night becasue of an incident where one mean girl got 'shanked' by the rest of the crowd)... that sort of thing.

    So different from a game cam or nanny cam. Have you heard of anyone actually monitoring the whereabouts of their hens---makes me think of those ankle bracelets they make lawbreakers wear for in house arrest [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2014
  4. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    No I don't have a camera set up, but I did consider it. How would a security camera set up fit in with what you might what?

    There was a mention made a while ago about using one of those dog finders on a chicken. I think they decided it would be to heavy.
     
  5. dretd

    dretd Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think any kind of camera would be away from what I want. A camera implies that I would have to watch footage and that would take up a lot of time, plus it can be hard to tell the same-breed girls apart!

    Hubby found some RFID tags that are like bracelets so we may look at figuring out how to set up a reader system.

    Anyone out there done RFID tags for their girls?
     
  6. dretd

    dretd Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Not sure what a dog reader is--like a gps thing? Could you elaborate?
     
  7. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Think there are both GPS and radio direction locato for dogs. The sender unit is on the dog sending out either its Global Position or a signal that the hand unit uses to track the dog's direction. A security camera can record video so you can watch it at normal speed or fast forward. But I understand that you would like to track them to understand what they are doing. Ideally each one with its own radio tag. Then having a computer keep track and put it on a map of their area, to see who is at the waterer or what feeder or when they are in the nest. Much like a wild life tracking system that records not just sends out a signal.
     
  8. sunspot

    sunspot Out Of The Brooder

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  9. dretd

    dretd Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wow, Thanks for the links! This is exactly the sort of thing that I was going for!

    How is your project going? I actually looked at some RFID ankle bracelets (on Alibaba) and saw that the read range was so short I thought that they would never be reliable enough. Are the Chinese rings you were talking about the same as a wrist band/ankle bracelet? I was thinking that if I (and by I, I mean my tech-savvy Hubby!) could get it figured out that I would have to get the reader on the floor of the entrance or the nest box and that would inevitably lead to it getting pooped on or otherwise messed up. Are you putting yours on the floor of the entrance or on the side?

    I was looking also at trying to figure out how to make my own tags. I found a site http://www.animalmigration.org/RFID/RFIDBands.htm that shows how to make your own for song birds, but it didn't say the read range and I was thinking that it wouldn't be far enough to be read as the girls walked into the nest box.

    I would love your input on this since I, the non-technologist, have been tasked to do some initial fact-finding for my propeller-headed hubby who is too busy to do the initial research. They are after all, my chickens, so I am grateful to him for offering to help and grateful to you for any advice you can lend!!
     
  10. sunspot

    sunspot Out Of The Brooder

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    dretd

    The Chinese rings are the same as a wrist band/ankle bracelets.
    They are not cheap.

    I think I may have solved my problems!

    The Chinese rings have tiny RFID cells in them and I think they are designed for a hand held reader (as for pigeons)

    The dirt cheap Chinese key fobs (see my web page) are sold by lots of vendors on ebay and have much larger coils.
    My detector coils are large and under the plywood floor of the nest box under the wood shavings. I get hundreds of detection while the bird sits - they may be there for 40 minutes.

    Last night I fitted 17 more birds with the key fob tags so all 21 have them and I see that all to lay today have been detected.

    I am watching the web cam now!
    My system stores a still photo from the webcam of each chicken that is detected so I can confirm the detection later.

    I may put a coil on the feeder so that I can confirm that any that does not get detected in a nest box does in fact have a working RFID tag.
    (eating but not laying = chicken heaven for that bird).

    There is a 7mm industrial nylon tie round the bird's ankle and a thin tie that fits the hole in the tag between the big tie and the tag.
    The chickens seem to be unaware of them - they are quite loose fit.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2014

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