Broiler farm microphones have Daily Mail aflutter

Well-known broiler farmer David Speller has been described as the “Doctor Doolittle” of farming for his work detecting patterns in the noise made by broilers.

In a pun-ridden – but otherwise informative feature – the Daily Mail visited Mr Speller’s poultry farm to find out more about new technology that listens to birds to determine discomfort.

See also: More on precision poultry farming

The article compares Mr Speller to fictional character Dr Dolittle, and says he has identified 11 types of “chicken chatter”.

Analysis of these recordings is a promising new method for discovering if conditions are not optimal in a poultry shed.

The technology is part of ongoing research by Leuven University, and promises to offer early detection of disease, discomfort or stress.

Mr Speller told the Daily Mail: “We’re trying to get some degree of individual animal monitoring, shed by shed, and we are having to learn how we can extract individual vocalisation.

“It’s a learning process because each batch of chicks is slightly different to the one before, but it’s all designed to improve what we do.

“In the future, robots could move around vast chicken sheds to collect sounds from individual animals.”

While the Daily Mail poked some fun at the subject, it was its sister paper, the Metro, that won the punfest with: “Farmer can tell his hens give a cluck.”

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