Smart home for chickens set to challenge “big poultry” in US
A US-based start up has released a smart chicken coop that uses AI, machine learning and IoT to identify and monitor individual chickens as well as to spy lurking predators.
Austin-based start up Coop is an AgriTech firm founded by two tech workers – AJ Forsythe, former CEO and founder or smart phone repair company iCracked (later acquired by Square Trade); and Jordan Barnes, former head of marketing at reselling app, Sella.
According to Forsythe, the firm has spent “more than 10,000 hours” hatching plans for the coop, which aims to corner the market in poultry microfarming.
Forsythe – who keeps chickens himself – added that Coop is a tech ecosystem that makes raising chickens easy for beginners, be they domestic households or restaurants and stores offering fresh, locally sourced produce.
Coop comes with a chicken house, a wire fence, lights that can be controlled remotely, and a set of cameras. All a would-be chicken farmer requires to get things going are Wi-Fi and around 100 square feet of grass.
At the heart of the offering is an AI software dubbed ‘cluckwatch’ which has been trained on over seven million images and can stand guard against potential threats like raccoons, foxes, or hawks.
“This hyper-specific animal recognition system alerts you the moment an unwelcome guest is near,” the company claimed in its press statement announcing Coop’s launch.
The system is powered by two cameras, one stationed outside in the run, and one stationed inside the roost.
In the morning, the door to the roost is raised automatically 20 minutes after sunrise, and at night, a feature called nest mode can tell owners if all their chickens have come home to roost.
Barnes added that not only can the camera pick up that there are four chickens in the frame, for instance, but it is able to tell the chickens apart from one another and it uses these learnings to provide insights through an accompanying app.
Another feature that the team has created is called “Cluck talk,” which can measure the decibels of chicken sounds to make a general assessment about whether they are hungry, happy, broody or in danger.
The firm released the Smart Chicken Coup earlier this month in the in the US market, with an “early bird” offer of $1,995 if purchased by the end of October (the price goes up by $500 after that).
According to Barnes, demand for these smart coops is matching the growing consumer curiosity around our food systems, which are starting to impact the decisions we make about the food we eat.
“For years, we’ve blindly depended on large, distant farms. But now, there’s a growing focus on what’s close — our own backyards,” she said.
“It’s not just about taking on ‘big poultry,” Barnes added. “It’s about painting a picture of a future less tethered to industrial farms and more connected to our own outdoor spaces.”
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