PhD project: sound monitoring in laying hen houses

In the poultry sector, it is striking how large the variation in performance is between poultry farms using the same genetics. This means that a lot of energy, effort and resources are lost in underperforming farms, without it being clear exactly what causes these losses.

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Animal control in large-scale poultry farms with cage-free systems is difficult and there is also a severe shortage of skilled personnel willing to work with poultry. These trends lead to the demand for automatic monitoring of poultry health, performance and welfare.

Sound monitoring in the laying hen house has received little attention to date. Poultry veterinarians and experts indicate that sound is a strong indicator of welfare and signalling stress. An exploratory study conducted by an intern found that noise in the house is an accessible indicator to monitor chicken activity and welfare in a commercial setting. However, development into a useful tool for poultry farmers still requires a lot of research.

What you'll be doing

  • Determine which specific sounds are of interest for monitoring through practical tests in the poultry house; 
  • Gather technical knowledge about hardware and software needed to analyze sound in the house; 
  • Be responsible for experimental design, data collection, algorithm development, data analysis relevant to their research; 
  • Translating the collected sound data into useful info for the poultry farmer; 
  • Integration of product in existing product portfolio in the field of data collection in the poultry house (Meggsius); 
  • Publish insights in scientific journals, conferences, workshops, and meetings. 

What we're looking for

  • Master's degree in Agrotechnology, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Data Science or other relevant disciplines; 
  • Interest in both practical research and desk work; 
  • Experience with computer programming, e.g. Python/MATLAB with hands-on ML packages (Pytorch, Tensorflow) and favorably audio processing packages (Librosa, Essentia); 
  • Can work well independently, but also in a multidisciplinary team environment; 
  • Good verbal and written communication skills (English and Dutch); 
  • High level of curiosity, personal integrity, and motivation to conduct outstanding research; 
  • Good organization and time management abilities to balance research, coursework, and other activities. 

What we offer

Working for Vencomatic Group means working at an innovative multinational with many opportunities to develop yourself, take responsibility and show initiative. You get the chance to work internationally. Within the job, we offer an extensive and professional training program within an open and result driven company culture. Besides a competitive salary, Vencomatic Group offers attractive secondary benefits.

You will work part of the week at the friendly family business Vencomatic Group and part at KU Leuven. At both workplaces, development opportunities are offered. 


Contact information

Apply by clicking on the button below or pick up your phone and call our Researcher, Anne van den Oever, at 0497-517380.

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