Tool of the month

Name: Thermal imaging camera

Cost: around $1100 

Intended use

Thermal imaging cameras are valuable managerial and educational tools in poultry production. Intended use of the cameras include but not limited to 

  • analyze heat loss and gain from poultry barns
  • evaluate radiant heating systems
  • measure temperature stratification
  • evaluate air inlet flow patterns and evaporative cooling system efficiency
  • measure egg temperatures in incubators

How does it work?

Thermal cameras detect temperature by recognizing and capturing different levels of infrared light. 

Difference between infrared thermometer and thermal imaging camera?

A non-contact thermometer only measures the temperature of a single point on floor, bird surface, feeder, etc., providing the user an average of everything within its field of view. However, thermal imaging cameras do tens of thousands of temperature measurements that they convert the temperatures to a color spectrum to provide a visible picture of thermal environment within poultry houses. 

Are two barns with the same temperature have the same thermal image?

Not necessarily. Two barns with the same temperature might have different air circulation, which cannot be illustrated by a simple thermometer but with a thermal imaging camera. Figure 1 compares two turkey barns with the same temperature but a different air movement. Look at the thermal condition of the birds in the picture to figure out the importance of a good air movement pattern in a barn. The thermal images aid us to evaluate the effectiveness of a ventilation system in keeping the flock in the comfortable temperature zone.

Figure 1. Thermal condition of turkeys in a barn with optimum air movement (left) versus a barn with a low air movement (Right). Adopted from Czarick, 2007.

Figure 2 shows how a thermal image can be used to detect insulation damages to a ceiling of a poultry house.

Figure 2. Adopted from

Figure 3 shows the application of thermal images in evaluation of inlet performance and ventilation system in a poultry house.
Figure 3. Adopted from


  1. Czarick, M. 2007. Thermal Imaging in the Poultry Industry. InfraMation 2007 Proceedings.
  2. Animal and Food Sciences. University of Kentucky.

About the author(s)

Research Associate at Poultry Innovation Partnership | + posts