Oinks of Happiness

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Pigs don’t say much with their oinks and squeals but a new study has found that these sounds do express a variety of emotions, the Washington Post reported.

Scientists used a data set of more than 7,000 vocalizations from more than 400 pigs at commercial farms. They focused on the animals’ emotional arousal – the heightened activity associated with pleasant and unpleasant stimuli – and labeled positive or negative emotions to different situations.

For example, fights or imminent slaughter were categorized as “negative,” while suckling was “positive.” The team also placed pigs in other scenarios, such as introducing them to new objects. Through the help of algorithms, they determined how to distinguish positive and negative sounds.

A pig that makes short sounds without much of a change in volume is feeling good and positive. But long squeals and high-frequency vocalizations are associated with negative emotions.

Even so, the mammals also made low-frequency grunts in both situations.

Researchers explained that the study aimed to understand when pigs are stressed and called it “an important step toward improved animal welfare for livestock.”

They added that the algorithm can be used by farmers to better understand their pigs or other livestock to improve their lives.

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