Poultry scientists are getting closer to interpreting what chickens are “saying” about stressors in their environment, according to a press release from The Poultry Science Association.

Research has demonstrated that bird vocalizations can serve as reliable indicators of particular forms of stress and that different vocalization patterns can be linked with specific kinds of stressful conditions.

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Dr. Michael J. Darre, a professor in the Department of Animal Science, is heading up the research at the University of Connecticut. His and his team’s goal, according to the release, is to develop a “black box” that can be placed in chicken houses that notifies the farmers when it detects stress vocalizations, and identifies the type of stress, so that action can be taken immediately to address the situation.

“Alleviating stress in commercial flocks of laying hens and broilers is important not only because it improves the overall welfare of the birds, but also because stress is a known enemy of production efficiencies,” said Darre.