Scientists have translated the cries of pigs to understand their emotions

Scientists have managed to detect the emotions of pigs using technology. They actually created a new algorithm that can decode the vocalizations of these animals in order to reveal their emotional state. The results of the study were recently published in the journal Science Advances.

According to the study authors, they recorded the growls and cries of 411 pigs. They then trained an artificial intelligence using the 7,414 recordings obtained so that it was able to determine which of these sounds indicated positive and negative emotions.

According to associate professor Elodie Briefer, this study they conducted demonstrates that the sounds of animals reflect their emotions. Their work also proved the effectiveness of using an algorithm to decode and understand the emotions of pigs. For the team, this is a big step forward in improving the welfare of farm animals.

Recordings made in different situations

The scientists made the recordings on commercial pigs of different ages in situations that elicited positive and negative emotions. For example, they recorded the sounds of piglets suckling and the sounds of pigs during a reunion for positive emotions, and the sounds during castration or slaughter for negative emotions.

The recordings were made in 19 different contextual situations. These situations encompass all the scenarios encountered by farm pigs during their life cycle. Some catches were even made in experimental barns where the animals were able to take part in new experiments.

The interpretation of sounds

An earlier study had shown that piglets squealed higher when they were in distress. The results obtained during this last study seem to corroborate this aspect of the cries of pigs. In general, high-pitched sounds were heard during negative situations. Low frequency sounds, on the other hand, were heard in both positive and negative situations.

Apart from the frequency, the researchers also observed that the duration of the cries was shorter when the pigs experienced satisfaction. As Briefer explains, calls are much shorter with minor fluctuations in amplitude in positive situations. On the other hand, negative emotions are typically associated with vocalizations fluctuating in volume.

According to Briefer and his team, their algorithm could now be used to create a mobile application capable of helping farmers interpret the noises made by their animals.


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