Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology and Georgia University are investigating the cackling of chickens and how they could indicate the health and well being of the flock.
The scientists are trying to pin down what chickens say relates to their welfare and conditions.
There are already guidelines that lay down the best conditions for a chicken to grow, as stress can slow down growth, making the bird lose value. But when conditions fail, farmers may save time and money by just listening. For example, the changes in ammonia concentration are now monitored by short-lived and expansive sensors, sensors that could be replaced with a microphone and software attuned to the sound of chicken ammonia distress.
But to know what the problem is, one has to make sure that chickens are capable of communicating.
The researchers are monitoring flocks and putting them under stressful conditions, to get an idea of the range and variability of chicken squawking.
Problems to data have been the sheer number of bird vocalisations, as well are trying to listen to the collective sounds of birds, and the interference generated by the ventilation system.
for more info from Georgia Tech
for a video of the experiments on Youtube