Standardised counting of Red Poultry Mite via smartphone camera

Simple, accurate method to count Red Poultry Mite infestation supports choice of appropriate and timely response

Red poultry mites (RPM) is a worldwide problem for laying hens. Extra costs per egg laying period can be as high as 1 euro per hen, due to a higher feed intake and second choice eggs. RPM can also cause allergic reactions at people who works with these hens. Only a couple of effective chemical and biological pest control agents are available that need to be applied in a smart way for an effective treatment and to prevent resistance.

Almost every poultry farm with laying hens is confronted with infections by RPM. RPM take a blood meal during the night causing stress and in the end anemia in hens. This is reducing their general condition and animal welfare, as well as the production of eggs. Hence, monitoring of RPM and prediction of its population is important to prevent high levels of infection and moreover to keep the costs for treatment low. This essential and laborious work is now simplified by using the Scoutbox app. With the camera of a smartphone RPM traps are photographed in uniform and accurate way. After uploading the photo’s to the server a specific algorithm identifies and counts RPM trapped. Reports are sent back in the same app or by email. RPM counts are automatically linked to their location in the stable.

For the first time in this sector a standard method of counting RPM is introduced using a smartphone camera. The farmer is able follow the RPM populations online and can decide and monitor which treatment is most effective.