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Media opportunity: Fowl language: Dalhousie University researcher uses AI to crack the code of clucks and unravel chicken chatter secrets, opening the door to an improved quality of life

Posted by Communications and Marketing on March 25, 2024 in News

Chickens are serious communicators — their clucks, squawks and purrs are not just random sounds or farmyard talk, but a complex language system used to interact with the world and express joy, fear and social cues to one another.

Knowing what these vocalizations mean could deepen our understanding of these animals and improve poultry farming, chicken welfare and quality of life. So, what if you could eavesdrop on chickens' chatter and interpret its meaning?

Suresh Neethirajan, an associate professor and the University Research Chair in Digital Livestock Farming in Dalhousie's Faculty of Computer Science, is doing just that by applying artificial intelligence to chicken sounds from more than 30 poultry farms across North America and Europe, including birds with Avian flu and a wide range of health conditions.

Using sophisticated machine learning algorithms -- or Natural Language Processing -- he has translated chickens' nonsensical sounds to specific words, like "Danger!" and "Fox!" For instance, he can now understand expressions of distress or a need for help in diseased chickens, much like a human saying, "I have to go to the hospital."

Dr. Neethirajan is available to discuss this unprecedented work and how it is like having a universal translator for chicken speech that could detect stress early and lead to more empathetic treatment of farm animals.


Media contact:

Alison Auld
Senior Research Reporter
Communications, Marketing and Creative Services
Dalhousie University 
Cell: 1-902-220-0491 


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