Researchers are aiming to improve the welfare of chickens by enabling farmers to manage their flocks more efficiently using a smartphone app.
Some 58 billion chickens each year are used in food production and to enable chicken meat to be cheap and easily available, they can be kept in large flocks of up to 50,000 birds. These chickens are bred to put on weight very rapidly so that they can reach a slaughter weight in just 35 days. These methods that have increase food production have brought with them welfare problems for the birds – such as a tendency to lameness and cardiovascular diseases – which BBSRC-funded scientists from The University of Oxford are hoping to address.
Scientists have been developing a system that constantly monitors the welfare of chickens throughout their lives. It works on smartphones placed inside chicken houses, using the phones’ built in cameras to monitor the movement of bird flocks (see video). By measuring the optical flow (rate of change in image brightness) patterns, the app picks out flocks with unusual movement and predicts welfare problems days or even weeks before these become serious, thus allowing the farmer to intervene.
Video credit: Marian Dawkins and Tom Nickson from the University of Oxford
Sometimes Getting Along Comes Down To How You Say ‘Gravy’
In the hectic days before we went live one year ago (hooray!), we somehow missed the news of the passing, at age 91, of John Gumperz — a hugely influential linguist who contributed reams of research on the ways people from different cultures communicate. Had we been paying attention, we could have highlighted a story from Gumperz’s studies that serves as a useful demonstration of why code-switching can be both a potent metaphor and a necessary skill.
It’s a story about workplace discrimination. It’s a story about missed cultural signals. It’s a story about gravy.
Scalp is the soft tissue layer covering the bony vault over the brain. It is usually described as having five layers:
S: The skin on the head from which head hair grows. It contains numerous sabaeceous glands and hair follicles
C: Connective tissue. A thin layer of fat and fibrous tissue lies beneath the skin.
A: The aponeurosis called epicranial aponeurosis (or galea aponeurotica) is the next layer. It is a tough layer of dense fibrous tissue which runs from the frontalis muscle anteriorly to the occipitalis posteriorly.
L: The loose areolar connective tissue layer provides an easy plane of separation between the upper three layers and the pericranium.
P: The pericranium is the periosteum of the skull bones and provides nutrition to the bone and the capacity for repair.
At TEDxYouth@Manchester, genetics researcher Dan Davis introduces the audience to compatibility genes — key players in our immune system’s functioning, and the reason why it’s so difficult to transplant organs from person to person: one’s compatibility genes must match another’s for a transplant to take.