People can tell if chickens are chirpy or frustrated from their calls, say Australian researchers who played audio recordings of hens to nearly 200 volunteers. They found that 69% could tell the difference between birds that were happy about an imminent treat and those that were annoyed that no such reward was forthcoming. Acoustic monitoring that uses artificial intelligence to gauge the mood in the coop and alerts breeders when hens aren’t content could “enhance welfare assessment methods in the commercial chicken production industry”, says senior author Joerg Henning, a professor in veterinary epidemiology at the University of Queensland. The hens had been trained to associate different sounds, such as beeps, rings and buzzes, with the contents of a bowl hidden behind a swing door.

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