The Royal Society

Supplementary material from "Spectral entropy of early-life distress calls as an iceberg indicator of chicken welfare"

Posted on 2020-06-01 - 06:26
Chicks (Gallus domesticus) make a repetitive, high energy ‘distress’ call when stressed. Distress calls are a catch-all response to a range of environmental stressors, and elicit food calling and brooding from hens. Pharmacological and behavioural laboratory studies link expression of this call with negative affective state. As such, there is an a priori expectation that distress calls on farms indicate not only physical, but emotional welfare. Using whole-house recordings on 12 commercial broiler flocks (n = 25 090–26 510/flock), we show that early life (day 1–4 of placement) distress call rate can be simply and linearly estimated using a single acoustic parameter: spectral entropy. After filtering to remove low-frequency machinery noise, spectral entropy per minute of recording had a correlation of −0.88 with a manual distress call count. In videos collected on days 1–3, age-specific behavioural correlates of distress calling were identified: calling was prevalent (spectral entropy low) when foraging/drinking were high on day 1, but when chicks exhibited thermoregulatory behaviours or were behaviourally asynchronous thereafter. Crucially, spectral entropy was predictive of important commercial and welfare-relevant measures: low median daily spectral entropy predicted low weight gain and high mortality, not only into the next day, but towards the end of production. Further research is required to identify what triggers, and thus could alleviate, distress calling in broiler chicks. However, within the field of Precision Livestock Farming, this work shows the potential for simple descriptors of the overall acoustic environment to be a novel, tractable and real-time ‘iceberg indicator’ of current and future welfare.


3 Biotech
3D Printing in Medicine
3D Research
3D-Printed Materials and Systems
AAPG Bulletin
AAPS PharmSciTech
Abhandlungen aus dem Mathematischen Seminar der Universität Hamburg
ABI Technik (German)
Academic Medicine
Academic Pediatrics
Academic Psychiatry
Academic Questions
Academy of Management Discoveries
Academy of Management Journal
Academy of Management Learning and Education
Academy of Management Perspectives
Academy of Management Proceedings
Academy of Management Review
Select your citation style and then place your mouse over the citation text to select it.



Usage metrics

Journal of the Royal Society Interface


Katherine A. Herborn
Alan G. McElligott
Malcolm A. Mitchell
Victoria Sandilands
Brett Bradshaw
Lucy Asher
need help?