What would be required to determine which birds visited their nest boxes to lay eggs?
You would need to place a tag on each chicken and deploy a reader at the nest box entrance. Many transponders available online go around a chicken's leg. These are HF RFID tags that have a relatively short read range, from a few inches to 3 feet or so. Given that the transponder antennas would be small, you would likely only be reading the tags at a distance of a few inches, so I would suggest using an HF reader with an antenna under the entry of the nest boxes.
You would need to link the transponder's serial number with the chicken on whose leg that tag was placed. Each time the bird entered the next box, the tag would be interrogated. You would get a time and date stamp from the reader to indicate when that ID was read. Keep in mind that if the chicken were to stand on the antenna for a few seconds, or move back and forth over the reader antenna, you would receive multiple reads. Therefore, you would need to clean the data in order to obtain a clear picture of how many times each animal visited the nest boxes.
If you need to calculate the amount of time each chicken spends in the nest box, you could deploy a reader antenna on each side of the entryway. A two- or four-port reader would enable you to install multiple antennas, and this would give you a time and date stamp for each read by every antenna. By comparing which antenna read the tag first, you could monitor the direction in which any given chicken was traveling. This would allow you to know when a specific bird entered or exited the box, thereby enabling you to calculate the amount of time it spent within.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal
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