August 13, 2022

Pigs get happy and excited when they reunite with their family

Pigs have long been considered one of the most intelligent animals in the world  – so, naturally, we are dying to know exactly what they’re thinking and feeling.

Scientists have successfully decoded the emotions of pigs after analysing over 7,000 acoustic recordings of grunts from over 400 different pigs – and the findings are piggin’ insane.

According to a report by Study Finds this week, a team of European scientists has become the first in the world to decode pig grunts into identifiable emotions, which are recognisable across a diverse range of conditions and life stages.

The study was conducted by scientists from the University of Copenhagen, ETH Zurich, and France’s National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE). They recorded pig grunts from hundreds of pigs throughout their lives – from birth to death.

And this is where it gets super cute.

The recordings included pigs’ reactions to positive and negative events and used these recordings to develop a special algorithm that enabled them to decode whether a pig was happy and excited, scared and stressed, or somewhere in between.

Pigs love their family

Positive situations include when piglets suckle from their mothers and (hankies at the ready) when a pig reunites with its family.

Fights, separations, castration, and slaughter are unsurprisingly situations that they find negative.

Scientists in this study went a step further – setting up more specific “mock” scenarios such as arenas with toys or food to evoke specific emotions.

And it is these more specific emotions that could be really beneficial for farmers.

Study co-leader Associate Professor Elodie Briefer said understanding the emotions of pigs is “an important step towards improved animal welfare for livestock.”

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Farmers are in need of a way to monitor animal emotions, as mental health of livestock is key to their overall wellbeing.

“Now, we need someone who wants to develop the algorithm into an app that farmers can use to improve the welfare of their animals,” Prof Briefer added.

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