Animals in Labs Article from

Researchers Develop New Technology to Read Pigs’ Emotions

FROM Ingrid L. Taylor,
April 2022

We’ve had these data for decades. Having a new method to measure emotions doesn’t mean much for the individual animals who are still being killed and eaten. Regardless of 'results,' no animal can thrive on a factory farm.

Pigles in lab

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen are developing an automated emotion recognition tool that they claim can be used to assess pig welfare on farms. Lead researcher Elodie Briefer thinks this technology can be an important tool for determining positive welfare in animals, which looks beyond just the alleviation of suffering to how animals can have more fulfilled lives.

“Animals need to thrive,” says Briefer in an interview with Copenhagen University, “It is not enough that they are in good physical shape or you reduce negative emotions.”

To create the technology, researchers collected previously recorded vocalizations from pigs in past studies. From this data, they selected 7,414 pig calls from some of the more disturbing moments in the pigs’ lives. The data included a 2015 experiment [Expression of Emotional Arousal in Two Different Piglet Call Types] in which piglets were placed on their backs and forcibly held down to record their reactions. In other experiments that were used, piglets were subjected to castrations without anesthesia or pain medications and recorded as they were waiting to be slaughtered, kept in social isolation, or held in small boxes....


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