Chicken Trackers May Show If Your Flock Logs More Steps Than You

Can you beat your chicken’s step count? Chicken trackers may soon tell us everything we need to know about our flock’s activity level.

by Shelly Wutke
PHOTO: photos courtesy of Honest Eggs Co.

Henrietta from Australia has a Strava account, and the number of steps she takes every day may make you feel like you need to get out more. Did I mention that Henrietta is a chicken? Henrietta the ‘chook’ lives on a farm owned by Australian company Honest Eggs Co., and she’s one of the first chickens to test out FitChix, a chicken activity tracker.

FitChix Chicken-Friendly Activity Tracker

Tracking the health of livestock is an important part of farming. Animals don’t always respond to pain, illness or stress the same way humans do. Because they can’t tell us when they are feeling sick, hungry, cold or tired, it can be a struggle to determine what illness a flock has or whether they’re getting enough food and exercise.

Monitoring the well-being of chickens is just one of the reasons why Honest Eggs Co. invented the first fitness tracker for chickens.

Honest Eggs Co. wanted to capture and share the activity levels of their birds with the people who buy their eggs. They did this to eliminate any questions about how free-range their eggs are. By tracking their chickens and stamping the activity level of their hens right on the egg, anyone buying the eggs would know they really were from true free-range hens.

How FitChix Works

If you wear an activity tracker yourself, you know how it tracks your daily steps, distance and other metrics like calories burned, GPS or heart rate. Just like our own fitness trackers, FitChix likely uses an accelerometer to monitor steps.

Accelerometers are sensors that detect movement. As the chicken goes about its day, the device tracks activity and logs it in software. As shown in Henrietta’s Strava account, the device also appears to track distance and durations.

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Honest Egg Co. takes their chicken’s step count and prints it right on the egg. If you buy eggs from them, you can open your egg carton in the morning and be greeted with a number that shows you how many steps the chickens took before laying the egg.

The only catch? The company doesn’t track individual hen data and print it separately on each egg. Instead, Honest Eggs Co. prints an average of their collective hens’ steps on each dozen.

FitChix isn’t an intrusive device, so there is no harm for the chickens. It’s a small fitness tracker that sits on the hen’s back. Honest Egg Co. has said they don’t require their chickens to wear the tracker all the time but instead use it occasionally to monitor activity.

chicken tracker

More Chicken Trackers Could Be on the Way

FitChix isn’t a device available for purchase for your own flock, but there is another chicken fitness tracker in development that we may see in the future. Researchers at the University of California in Riverside have been working on a ‘Fitbit for chickens’ since 2018.

The device is a small backpack the chicken wears, and the researchers use an algorithm that analyzes different chicken behavior. When a chicken wears the backpack, researchers can see whether she is pecking or dust-bathing, or if she is feeling under the weather. Incredibly, the algorithm can also let them know if the chicken is suffering from illnesses like parasites.

Coming Soon to a Farm Near You?

There are GPS dog trackers, rumination collars to monitor cows, and even trackers to see where your barn cat wanders during the day. Are chicken trackers the next big trend for poultry owners?

Time will tell. But if they do appear on the market, we’ll all be able to gain valuable insight into the lives of our chickens.

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