A lot of people are paying attention to artificial intelligence these days, and for good reason. Although there are genuine concerns over this technology taking jobs away, it will also open up a lot of new opportunities. One particular farm in the US now uses AI to identify chicken speech and help farmers better understand the needs of their animals. It’s a rather interesting solution, although it remains to be seen how things will evolve.

This AI Speaks Fowl

There are plenty of exciting opportunities in the world of artificial intelligence. Beating gaming champions and chess players is one thing, but understanding animals is something else entirely. The Wilcox Farms in Washington State and Oregon will set a very interesting precedent in this regard. Like most animals, chickens have their own patterns of speech. While we may not currently understand them, there is now an AI which will help farmers understand their animals better.

Monitoring the well-being of one’s chicken flock is not all that easy, mind you. We humans are incapable of understanding them properly, or most other animals for that matter. When something major goes awry, we are able to identify the problem and hopefully resolve it. When it comes to deciphering animals’ day-to-day feelings, however, we are often left hanging. Surprisingly, chickens have a wide variety of clucks, caws, and chortles at their disposal. Every individual sound has its own meaning, and every sound has nuances as well, just like our human speech.

Chickens on a farm are always subject to a fair few external threats. Aerial predators, foxes, diseases, famine, or just not feeling well are a few of the problems these animals have to deal with. Unfortunately, there is no easy way for us to detect what is the matter or how things may be resolved. If the electronics in a coop fail, it can impact chickens and cause a lot of distress. Identifying the exact problem without a way of understanding these animals is pretty much impossible. This is where artificial intelligence comes into the picture.

Engineers and industry scientists at the University of Georgia and the Georgia Institute of Technology have been looking for a solution in this regard. Understanding the language of chickens is not all that easy, mind you, and requires a unique approach. It has taken these researchers five years to come up with a solution that will fit farmers’ unique needs. There is a lot of valuable information associated with chicken chatter, and the new artificial intelligence should help farmers make sense of it all.

Auburn University’s College of Agriculture poultry scientist Wallace Berry stated:

“It’s really interesting work, fairly ingenious and logical. Chickens are a very vocal species, and as a poultry farmer you can always use more data to make better decisions. This is a great way to continuously filter all the information available in a chicken house and learn as soon as possible that something is wrong.”

Several studies on this topic have been published, and it is evident a lot of progress was made between 2014 and now. A group of broiler chickens was exposed to various stressful situations, which allowed the scientists to record their clucks and caws. This audio file was then run through a machine-learning program which was trained to recognize the sounds and make sense of them all. The initial progress has been pretty positive, as the AI is capable of detecting discomfort and distress. It is a very big step forward in the world of AI and farming; that much is evident.