FFAR, McDonald’s Launch Animal Welfare Technology Research Initiative

  • FFAR, McDonald’s Launch Animal Welfare Technology Research Initiative

    April 4, 2019

    The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) has announced the launch of the SMART Broiler, a research initiative offering $4 million for research supporting the development and commercialization of automated monitoring tools that quantitatively assess key animal welfare indicators in broiler chickens. FFAR is partnering with McDonald’s as a cofounder on this initiative. The SMART Broiler program is now accepting applications to improve animal welfare.

    Existing methods for assessing animal welfare rely on human observation and subjective scoring. This initiative aims to identify technology solutions to provide objective and comprehensive information about broiler welfare across the supply chain.

    “FFAR is committed to improving animal welfare. Developing monitoring tools is critical to understanding and improving animal welfare across the broiler industry,” said Sally Rockey, FFAR executive director. “The SMART Broiler program will not only improve the accuracy of welfare assessments, but also enhance producer efficiency and profitability.”

    The SMART Broiler program will develop tools to quantitatively assess and collect information regarding key welfare indicators such as walking ability and behavior. The Sensors, Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technologies (SMART) developed during this initiative will be tested in McDonald’s suppliers’ commercial broiler facilities, encouraging their adoption on a wide scale.

    SMART Broiler grants will be awarded in two phases to multiple, cross-disciplinary teams. The research objective is to rapidly develop the hardware components, data management, and analytics necessary to assess broiler chicken welfare on the farm. The initial funding phase will award a maximum of four grants, each receiving up to $500,000. SMART Broiler phase I is currently accepting pre-proposals until June 5, 2019.

    During the second research phase, those awardees whose technology solutions demonstrated promise and delivered value will receive up to $1 million in additional funding to continue to refine and validate their technologies. The end goal of the program is to develop commercially-feasible tools that can deployed worldwide.

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