Pigs are complex emotionally and have feelings

Pigs are complex emotionally and have feelings. They are not only a food source, but also a way to express their emotions.

The ability to read pig body language can give us insight into their emotions and reveal the extent of their suffering in factory farms

With over a decade’s experience as a behavior and welfare expert, I have seen the heartbreaking scenes of pig suffering. Factory farms are notorious for pigs being kept in cramped, dark, dark, and deplorable conditions.

Painful mutilations are performed on piglets, such as having their tails and teeth cut. These unneeded practices are used to keep the pigs in poor welfare conditions.

It is hard to comprehend the extent of suffering suffered by pigs. In 2016, over 1.4 billion pigs were killed for their meat. In 2016, more than 1.4 billion people were slaughtered for meat. This compares to just half a million 50 years ago. As a result, the global appetite for pork has tripled since 1950.

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More than a “protein source”

A new field of science was born 50 years ago out of the need to end cruel factory farming. It is known as “applied ethics”.

Animal behaviour researchers hadn’t studied animals’ emotional abilities before applied ethology. This included their ability to feel joy, sadness, and pain. Scientists came up with new ways to study farm animals’ emotional lives and morally challenge their cruel farming practices.

The lack of progress in implementing welfare improvements backed by my science over the past decade frustrates me more as I learn more about pigs.

Recently, I was shocked to learn that pigs were being called a ‘protein source’ even though they were still living and breathing on farms. This is part of the problem, it struck me. It is wrong to think of pigs as protein-producing biological machines. Instead, they should be viewed as intelligent, social, gentle, and able to feel.

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What do animals really want?

Marion Dawkins was a pioneer in applied ethology. She outlined two key features for understanding welfare: is an animal healthy and can they have what they need?

Dawkins stated that it is important to analyze the behavior of an animal in order to answer these questions. Animals’ behaviours are similar to how we humans struggle to hide our emotions.

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You can read their body language

Francoise Wemelsfelder was another pioneer in the field of animal welfare. She created an easy way to evaluate welfare by studying animals’ body language. Francoise Wemelsfelder’s simple approach to assessing welfare relies on the behavior of individual animals as an indicator of their inner feelings. The system assigns scores to animals on expressive terms such as ‘playful’ and ‘inquisitive, along with a scale that goes from very inactive to the most playful.

This powerful method uses body language to understand what an animal feels. It is not possible for people to project their feelings onto animals.

This is evident when pig farmers, vets, and animal activists all agreed on the scoring of pig body language. It shows the accuracy of the scoring system, despite the fact that they have different backgrounds, experiences, and opinions about pigs.

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Pigs feel.

It would be possible for everyone to observe pigs like I have been able to. This could change the way they view pigs as biological machines into characters capable of feeling. They might be able to acknowledge that they feel emotions, such as being ‘happy’, “playful”, or “bored”.

This insight may help pigs live a better life than living in cruel factory farms.

Reimagining pig factory farming in the context of pig welfare science will meet the physical, behavioral and emotional needs for pigs.

Sign the pledge to support pigs

We can all work together to end the suffering of factory-farmed pigs.

Sign our pledge and make sure supermarkets promise to only sell pork from right-raised pigs.