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Design and Implementation of Poultry Farming InformationManagement System Based on Cloud Database

Haikun Zheng 1 , Tiemin Zhang 1,2,3,*, Cheng Fang 1 , Jiayuan Zeng 1 and Xiuli Yang 1

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Citation: Zheng, H.; Zhang, T.; Fang,

C.; Zeng, J.; Yang, X. Design and

Implementation of Poultry Farming

Information Management System

Based on Cloud Database. Animals

2021, 11, 900. https://doi.org/

10.3390/ani11030900

Academic Editors: Yang Zhao,

Weichao Zheng, María Cambra-López

and Daniella Jorge De Moura

Received: 2 February 2021

Accepted: 19 March 2021

Published: 22 March 2021

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Copyright: © 2021 by the authors.

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distributed under the terms and

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Attribution (CC BY) license (https://

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4.0/).

1 College of Engineering, South China Agricultural University, 483 Wushan Road, Guangzhou 510642, China;[email protected] (H.Z.); [email protected] (C.F.); [email protected] (J.Z.);[email protected] (X.Y.)

2 National Engineering Research Center for Breeding Swine Industry, Guangzhou 510642, China3 Guangdong Laboratory for Lingnan Modern Agriculture, Guangzhou 510642, China* Correspondence: [email protected]

Simple Summary: Informatization can effectively improve the production and management effi-ciency in the poultry farming process. In this study, a management system was designed to realize theacquisition, transmission, storage, and management of information, and upload the data to the clouddatabase to increase the flexibility and scalability of the system. On the basis of realizing productionmanagement functions, the system also incorporates an office management module, thus forminga complete data chain in production activities, so as to conduct farming data mining and accuratetraceability in the next stage of the work. In particular, the system also adds poultry disease detectionmodule supports to achieve the purpose of healthy farming. The research provides an informationmanagement plan for the intensive poultry farming model, and the designed management systemmay be the starting point of a future intelligent poultry farming management system based on cloudservices and big data technology.

Abstract: Aiming at breaking down the bottleneck problems of different scale of poultry farms, thelow profitability of poultry farming, and backward information management in China, a safe andefficient information management system for poultry farming was designed. This system consists of(1) a management system application layer, (2) a data service layer, and (3) an information sensinglayer. The information sensing layer obtains and uploads production and farming informationthrough the wireless sensor network built in the poultry house. The use of a cloud database as aninformation storage carrier in the data service layer eliminates the complex status of deploying localserver clusters, and it improves the flexibility and scalability of the system. The management systemapplication layer contains many sub-function modules including poultry disease detection functionsto realize the visual management of farming information and health farming; each module operatesindependently and cooperates with each other to form a set of information management systemfor poultry farming with wide functional coverage, high service efficiency, safety, and convenience.The system prototype has been tested for the performance of wireless sensor network and clouddatabase, and the results show that the prototype is capable of acquiring and managing poultryfarming information.

Keywords: poultry farming; information management; cloud database; disease detection

1. Introduction

Modern poultry farming companies need a complete management system to assistcompanies in managing their daily production activities. The system should cover suchthings as personnel office management, purchase–sales–inventory management, environ-mental monitoring and control in poultry houses, and monitoring of individual poultryinformation. At the same time, it also needs to include traceability management of products,diagnosis, and early warning of poultry diseases to meet the need for future development.

Animals 2021, 11, 900. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030900 https://www.mdpi.com/journal/animals

Animals 2021, 11, 900 2 of 15

With the development of large-scale and intensive poultry farming, more intelligentand automated technologies and methods have been applied in poultry farming [1,2],such as radio frequency identification technology [3], Internet of Things technology (IoT),and cloud technology [4]. At the same time, there are methods such as poultry diseasedetection, poultry diet monitoring [5], environmental monitoring in poultry houses [6,7],product tracking and traceability, and abnormal detection in poultry houses to achieveprecision farming. Yu Ligen et al. developed a network-based data acquisition systemusing LabVIEW software for environmental monitoring in poultry management [8], whichdescribes the construction of data acquisition system hardware and the process of dataacquisition. The method also provides a reference for us to build an environmental moni-toring module. British Irvine explored the British broiler meat value chain [9] and provideda method for constructing the traceability module in the poultry farming managementsystem through its in-depth analysis of the value chain. Research on applying wirelesssensing systems along with mobile networking and cloud platform to some agriculturalsystems in crops [10] has provided us with new ideas to develop a similar informationsystem for poultry farming.

In recent years, more and more researchers have devoted themselves to the studyof precision poultry farming [11,12]. Some researchers help farmers control and monitorthe health status of poultry through IOT, imagery analytics, and other technologies [13].Other researchers build online platforms and using smart sensors to record and manageproduction information in real time [14–16]. Although wireless sensing and cloud platformtechniques are well advanced, there is no complete system that covers all of the functionsto meet needs for poultry farming management. The technical difficulties include theunified construction of the system, the reasonable division of functional modules, the goodmutual cooperation between modules, the interaction of software and hardware, and theintelligentization of the system.

This paper reports the conceptual design of a poultry farming information man-agement system with a cloud database as the core hub, through the connection of theunderlying hardware facilities in the poultry house and the upper management systemand the cloud database to manage the daily office work and production management tasksof poultry farming enterprises. In addition, this cloud-based management system alsopays more attention to the storage and management of data information by separatingthe database system from the software system. The ultimate goal of the poultry farminginformation management system is to expand the development of the poultry industrymanagement system with big data analysis capability.

2. Overall System Architecture

Figure 1 shows the overall structure of the system. The system is divided into threelayers, which are the upper management system, the intermediate data service layer (alsoknown as the middle layer), and the underlying layer (also known as the bottom layer,including hardware facilities in the poultry house).

The upper layer is a software management system that provides a good visual inter-face. The management system is divided into an office automation module, a productionmanagement module, an expert system, and a traceability module. As for the middle layer,the cloud database is used to store the data and information generated by the upper layerand the bottom layer, and at the same time construct a reasonable network environmentto solve mutual communication problems by configuring the underlying server. At thebottom layer, in poultry house(s), environmental sensors, Wi-Fi receiving and transmittingdevices, and single-chip microcomputers can be configured to timely acquire and transmitenvironmental information and poultry individual information (including poultry weightinformation, feed intake data information, drinking water data information, poultry eggquality information, etc.). Ventilation fans, evaporative cooling pads, heaters, and otherequipment placed in the poultry house to regulate environmental parameters such astemperature and humidity in the house.

Animals 2021, 11, 900 3 of 15Animals 2021, 11, x FOR PEER REVIEW 3 of 16

Figure 1. Overall structure of the system.

The upper layer is a software management system that provides a good visual in-

terface. The management system is divided into an office automation module, a produc-

tion management module, an expert system, and a traceability module. As for the middle

layer, the cloud database is used to store the data and information generated by the up-

per layer and the bottom layer, and at the same time construct a reasonable network en-

vironment to solve mutual communication problems by configuring the underlying

server. At the bottom layer, in poultry house(s), environmental sensors, Wi-Fi receiving

and transmitting devices, and single-chip microcomputers can be configured to timely

acquire and transmit environmental information and poultry individual information

(including poultry weight information, feed intake data information, drinking water data

information, poultry egg quality information, etc.). Ventilation fans, evaporative cooling

pads, heaters, and other equipment placed in the poultry house to regulate environ-

mental parameters such as temperature and humidity in the house.

2.1. System Network Construction and Transmission Method

An environmental parameter information sensor (including temperature and hu-

midity sensor, ammonia sensor, carbon dioxide sensor, hydrogen sulfide sensor, light

intensity sensor, etc.), feed intake data monitoring module, drinking water data moni-

toring module, video monitoring system, fans, evaporative cooling pads, heaters, feed-

ing, and manure cleaning facilities in the poultry house together form the local area

network system in the house. This section mainly reports the information transmission

methods, local transmission strategies, and configuration of network nodes in poultry

houses.

Data transmission between the poultry house and the house environmental control

system is primarily provided by a suitable wired communication system, such as a

fieldbus. There are some disadvantages (e.g., configure too many network endpoints,

device address assignment rules, and other issues) of using a full wireless system.

Therefore, the local area network in the house uses a wireless/wireline hybrid construc-

tion [17]. As shown in Table 1, among the three commonly used wireless transmission

modes (i.e., Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and ZigBee), the Wi-Fi technology has the longest trans-

mission distance and the fastest transmission speed [18]; therefore, Wi-Fi technology was

selected as the wireless transmission method in the poultry house selects.

Figure 1. Overall structure of the system.

2.1. System Network Construction and Transmission Method

An environmental parameter information sensor (including temperature and hu-midity sensor, ammonia sensor, carbon dioxide sensor, hydrogen sulfide sensor, lightintensity sensor, etc.), feed intake data monitoring module, drinking water data monitoringmodule, video monitoring system, fans, evaporative cooling pads, heaters, feeding, andmanure cleaning facilities in the poultry house together form the local area network systemin the house. This section mainly reports the information transmission methods, localtransmission strategies, and configuration of network nodes in poultry houses.

Data transmission between the poultry house and the house environmental controlsystem is primarily provided by a suitable wired communication system, such as a fieldbus.There are some disadvantages (e.g., configure too many network endpoints, device addressassignment rules, and other issues) of using a full wireless system. Therefore, the localarea network in the house uses a wireless/wireline hybrid construction [17]. As shownin Table 1, among the three commonly used wireless transmission modes (i.e., Bluetooth,Wi-Fi, and ZigBee), the Wi-Fi technology has the longest transmission distance and thefastest transmission speed [18]; therefore, Wi-Fi technology was selected as the wirelesstransmission method in the poultry house selects.

Table 1. Comparison of three commonly wireless transmission methods (Bluetooth, Wi-Fi,ZigBee) within four parameters (frequency band, transmission distance, power dissipation,transmission rate).

TransmissionModes

Frequency BandTransmission

DistancePower

DissipationTransmission

Rate

Bluetooth 2.4 GHz 2–30 m 20 mA 1 MbpsWi-Fi 2.4 GHz 100–300 m 10–50 mA 600 Mbps

ZigBee 2.4 GHz 50–300 m 5 mA 100 Kbps

2.2. Cloud Database

The Alibaba Cloud Database RDS service was used in the system, as it has a goodvisual operation interface and numerous auxiliary analysis tools. It can generate database-related files such as E-R diagrams (Entity Relationship Diagram) and data dictionary withone click, and it can also generate test data to ensure the test works during database devel-opment. The database uses a relational database, and the database version is MySQL5.7.As the core hub of a poultry farming information management system, the cloud database

Animals 2021, 11, 900 4 of 15

should carry out requirements analysis, concept design, logical structure design, construc-tion of the E-R model, design table structure, and primary-foreign key relationships in theprocess of design and construction.

The intranet address of the system can be accessed by the Alibaba Cloud Server, whichhas the advantages of fast reading speed and convenient setup. The external networkaddress can be accessed by Internet users with access rights, and the database can be readand written. In the design stage, the selected database memory is 1024 MB, 1 core CPU, thestorage capacity is 20 GB, and the maximum number of connections is 2000. It is confirmedin the actual development test that this configuration can meet the development needs.

2.3. Upper Management System

The management system uses the C++ language as the main development tool, thelatest Qt5 framework as an open source support library, and the Qt Creator as an IDE(Integrated Development Environment) for compilation and development.

Figure 2 shows the functional framework of the poultry farming management system.The whole system is divided into four functional modules. The production managementmodule mainly realizes the monitoring of environmental parameters in the poultry house,the monitoring of the growth information of individual poultry, and the management of theproduction operations in the poultry house. The office management module mainly fulfillsthe business tasks such as personnel management, financial management, and invoicing.The expert system module combines artificial intelligent technology such as data miningand machine learning to (1) realize egg shape index analysis; (2) provide feeding standards,breeding recommendations, mortality analysis, and other functions, and (3) realize poultrydisease diagnosis and an early warning system based on audio and image analysis ofpoultry. Modules are functionally independent, with data-sharing capability.

Animals 2021, 11, x FOR PEER REVIEW 5 of 16

Figure 2. Functional framework of poultry farming information management system.

3. Wireless Sensor Network Design

The bottom layer of the system is mainly composed of wireless sensor networks,

which are used to manage terminal nodes and the uploaded data information.

The composition of the wireless sensor network in the poultry house is shown in

Figure 3. Each terminal node uses AT commands to automatically search for the wireless

network by name and join it. After joining the network, it can independently obtain the

device IP address and server IP address. Open the transparent transmission mode

through the AT command, and use the UDP transmission protocol to transmit the data

information. At the same time, in order to summarize and forward the data information

uploaded by each terminal node, a data server should also be configured in the wireless

sensor network in the poultry house.

Figure 3. The composition of the wireless sensor network in the poultry house.

The wireless sensor network and various types of intelligent equipment can solve

the problem of obtaining and transmitting various kinds of rearing information (e.g.,

environmental information, poultry weight information, poultry dietary information).

This section mainly takes environmental information as an example to introduce the im-

Figure 2. Functional framework of poultry farming information management system.

3. Wireless Sensor Network Design

The bottom layer of the system is mainly composed of wireless sensor networks,which are used to manage terminal nodes and the uploaded data information.

The composition of the wireless sensor network in the poultry house is shown inFigure 3. Each terminal node uses AT commands to automatically search for the wirelessnetwork by name and join it. After joining the network, it can independently obtain the

Animals 2021, 11, 900 5 of 15

device IP address and server IP address. Open the transparent transmission mode throughthe AT command, and use the UDP transmission protocol to transmit the data information.At the same time, in order to summarize and forward the data information uploaded byeach terminal node, a data server should also be configured in the wireless sensor networkin the poultry house.

Animals 2021, 11, x FOR PEER REVIEW 5 of 16

Figure 2. Functional framework of poultry farming information management system.

3. Wireless Sensor Network Design

The bottom layer of the system is mainly composed of wireless sensor networks,

which are used to manage terminal nodes and the uploaded data information.

The composition of the wireless sensor network in the poultry house is shown in

Figure 3. Each terminal node uses AT commands to automatically search for the wireless

network by name and join it. After joining the network, it can independently obtain the

device IP address and server IP address. Open the transparent transmission mode

through the AT command, and use the UDP transmission protocol to transmit the data

information. At the same time, in order to summarize and forward the data information

uploaded by each terminal node, a data server should also be configured in the wireless

sensor network in the poultry house.

Figure 3. The composition of the wireless sensor network in the poultry house.

The wireless sensor network and various types of intelligent equipment can solve

the problem of obtaining and transmitting various kinds of rearing information (e.g.,

environmental information, poultry weight information, poultry dietary information).

This section mainly takes environmental information as an example to introduce the im-

Figure 3. The composition of the wireless sensor network in the poultry house.

The wireless sensor network and various types of intelligent equipment can solvethe problem of obtaining and transmitting various kinds of rearing information (e.g.,environmental information, poultry weight information, poultry dietary information).This section mainly takes environmental information as an example to introduce theimplementation process of information acquisition and upload. In the example, fourenvironmental information sensing units are deployed in the wireless sensor network.

3.1. Poultry House Server

A data server should be configured in the wireless sensor network in the poultry houseto process and forward the data information obtained by the terminal nodes in the network.Therefore, the server in the poultry house should choose a controller that has a processor,operating system, wireless network card, and can store programs. Considering the harshworking environment in the poultry house, this research selected the Industrial PersonalComputer (IPC) with stronger waterproof, dustproof, and anti-interference capabilitiesthan the data server.

In addition to the attributes and characteristics of ordinary computers, it also hasstronger anti-interference ability and long-term uninterrupted working ability, which aresuitable for use in the context of poultry farming environment. This research work selectsan industrial control computer as the server in the poultry house to process and upload thedata generated by the terminal node of the wireless sensor network, and the performanceparameters are shown in Table 2.

Table 2. Industrial control computer performance parameters.

Device Parameter Manufacturer

CPU Intel Core i5-7440HQ @ 2.80 GHz IntelRAM 8 GB (DDR4 2666 MHz) SAMSUNG

Operating system Windows 10 Professional 64-bit MicrosoftHard disk NT-128 (128 GB/SSD) Kingspec

Network card 43224AG 802.11 n Wi-Fi Adapter Broadcom Corporation

In order to realize the processing and uploading of the data information generated bythe terminal node, and at the same time realize the management and control of the wireless

Animals 2021, 11, 900 6 of 15

sensor network in the poultry house, a set of server programs is designed and loaded onthe server in the poultry house to achieve the above-mentioned purpose.

3.2. Environmental Information Sensing Unit (EISU)

As the terminal node of the wireless sensor network, the environmental informationsensing unit (EISU) in the poultry house should contain various digital environmentalsensors, such as temperature and humidity sensors, carbon dioxide concentration sensors,hydrogen sulfide concentration sensors, light intensity sensors, wind speed sensors, etc.,and it should also be equipped with a micro processor and wireless transmission module.The structure diagram is shown in Figure 4, and the performance parameters of theenvironmental sensors used are shown in Table 3, which are provided by the manufacturer.

Animals 2021, 11, x FOR PEER REVIEW 6 of 16
plementation process of information acquisition and upload. In the example, four envi-

ronmental information sensing units are deployed in the wireless sensor network.

3.1. Poultry House Server

A data server should be configured in the wireless sensor network in the poultry

house to process and forward the data information obtained by the terminal nodes in the

network. Therefore, the server in the poultry house should choose a controller that has a

processor, operating system, wireless network card, and can store programs. Considering

the harsh working environment in the poultry house, this research selected the Industrial

Personal Computer (IPC) with stronger waterproof, dustproof, and anti-interference ca-

pabilities than the data server.

In addition to the attributes and characteristics of ordinary computers, it also has

stronger anti-interference ability and long-term uninterrupted working ability, which are

suitable for use in the context of poultry farming environment. This research work selects

an industrial control computer as the server in the poultry house to process and upload

the data generated by the terminal node of the wireless sensor network, and the perfor-

mance parameters are shown in Table 2.

Table 2. Industrial control computer performance parameters.

Device Parameter Manufacturer

CPU Intel Core i5-7440HQ @ 2.80 GHz Intel

RAM 8 GB (DDR4 2666 MHz) SAMSUNG

Operating system Windows 10 Professional 64-bit Microsoft

Hard disk NT-128 (128 GB/SSD) Kingspec

Network card 43224AG 802.11 n Wi-Fi Adapter Broadcom Corporation

In order to realize the processing and uploading of the data information generated

by the terminal node, and at the same time realize the management and control of the

wireless sensor network in the poultry house, a set of server programs is designed and

loaded on the server in the poultry house to achieve the above-mentioned purpose.

3.2. Environmental Information Sensing Unit (EISU)

As the terminal node of the wireless sensor network, the environmental information

sensing unit (EISU) in the poultry house should contain various digital environmental

sensors, such as temperature and humidity sensors, carbon dioxide concentration sen-

sors, hydrogen sulfide concentration sensors, light intensity sensors, wind speed sensors,

etc., and it should also be equipped with a micro processor and wireless transmission

module. The structure diagram is shown in Figure 4, and the performance parameters of

the environmental sensors used are shown in Table 3, which are provided by the manu-

facturer.

Figure 4. The structure diagram of the environmental information sensing unit structure. Figure 4. The structure diagram of the environmental information sensing unit structure.

Table 3. The environmental sensors performance parameters.

Type Range Resolution Accuracy Model

Temperature/◦C −40~125 0.01 ±0.3 ◦CSHT20Relative humidity/% 0~100 0.01 ±3%

Light intensity/lx 0~65,535 0.01 ±20% BH1750FVIH2S concentration/ppm 1~200 0.1 ±3% MQ-136

Various environmental sensors are used to sense and measure the parameter val-ues of the surrounding environment and using the I2C protocol to transmit them to themicrocontroller through the data bus. The microcontroller is responsible for packagingthe environmental data information according to the data packet format in Table 4 anduploading it to the poultry house server through the wireless transmission module; thediagram of the data flow is shown in Figure 5. Finally, the poultry house server uploadsthe data to the cloud database.

Animals 2021, 11, 900 7 of 15

Table 4. Environmental information packet format.

Number Identifier Data (Hex) Size (Byte) Description

1 EI 45 49 2 Packet header2 PL – 4 Packet length3 UN 55 4E 2 EISU number4 TS 54 53 2 Temperature data start flag5 TD – 4 Temperature data6 TE 54 45 2 Temperature data end flag7 HS 48 53 2 Humidity data start flag8 HD – 4 Humidity data9 HE 48 45 2 Humidity data end flag10 BS 42 53 2 Light intensity data start flag11 BD – 4 Light intensity data12 BE 42 45 2 Light intensity data end flag13 SS 53 53 2 H2S concentration data start flag14 SD – 4 H2S concentration data15 SE 53 45 2 H2S concentration data end flag16 CRC – 4 Check code17 EOP FF 45 2 End of packet flag

Animals 2021, 11, x FOR PEER REVIEW 7 of 16
Table 3. The environmental sensors performance parameters.

Type Range Resolution Accuracy Model

Temperature/°C −40~125 0.01 ±0.3 °CSHT20

Relative humidity/% 0~100 0.01 ±3%

Light intensity/lx 0~65,535 0.01 ±20% BH1750FVI

H2S concentration/ppm 1~200 0.1 ±3% MQ-136

Various environmental sensors are used to sense and measure the parameter values

of the surrounding environment and using the I2C protocol to transmit them to the mi-

crocontroller through the data bus. The microcontroller is responsible for packaging the

environmental data information according to the data packet format in Table 4 and up-

loading it to the poultry house server through the wireless transmission module; the di-

agram of the data flow is shown in Figure 5. Finally, the poultry house server uploads the

data to the cloud database.

Table 4. Environmental information packet format.

Number Identifier Data (Hex) Size (Byte) Description

1 EI 45 49 2 Packet header

2 PL – 4 Packet length

3 UN 55 4E 2 EISU number

4 TS 54 53 2 Temperature data start flag

5 TD – 4 Temperature data

6 TE 54 45 2 Temperature data end flag

7 HS 48 53 2 Humidity data start flag

8 HD – 4 Humidity data

9 HE 48 45 2 Humidity data end flag

10 BS 42 53 2 Light intensity data start flag

11 BD – 4 Light intensity data

12 BE 42 45 2 Light intensity data end flag

13 SS 53 53 2 H2S concentration data start flag

14 SD – 4 H2S concentration data

15 SE 53 45 2 H2S concentration data end flag

16 CRC – 4 Check code

17 EOP FF 45 2 End of packet flag

Figure 5. Flow chart of multi-threaded processing environment information data program. Figure 5. Flow chart of multi-threaded processing environment information data program.

3.3. Data Collection and Transmission

During the data transmission process of the wireless sensor network in the poultryhouse, there is no need to establish a one-to-one connection, only a one-to-many connectionis needed to …

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