ACOUSTIC sensors that monitor the wellbeing of chicks are amongst the new biosensors being marketed by Scotland-based agri-tech business, Greengage.

The listening device – known as the 'Chirpy' sensor – has been developed in conjunction with research at Newcastle University and the University of Roehampton in London, which has benefited from one of the Government’s Innovate UK projects.

“Over the past three years research at the two universities has identified the sounds made by chicks when they are suffering different types of stress,” explained Greengage's Matt Kealey. “Using acoustic sensors will help to identify the problem as it occurs and prioritise the remedial action. One of the research findings is that the stress can be contagious, influencing the behaviour of neighbouring birds.”

As well as targeting the sounds made by chicks during the brooding period, the chick sensor suite monitors a range of variables, and combines that data to create a valuable diagnostic tool for the early detection of health issues.

Alongside the 'Chirpy' sensor, there is the 'Cluster' sensor which views flock mobility; the 'Greenhouse' sensor monitoring levels of ammonia, carbon dioxide and humidity; and the Ambient sensor measuring light and temperature.

All the sensors clip onto the same Agricultural Lighting Induction System (ALIS) induction power cable used for lighting in livestock housing, making them easy to install.