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How Well Do Farmers Understand Animal Emotions?

Hog heaven might not be a real place, but thanks to the efforts of scientists at the UK"s Bristol Robotics Laboratory, some porkers might soon be enjoying something closer to pig paradise. Hoping to develop better methods for tending the farm animals, Profs. Melvyn Smith and Lyndon Smith of the Centre for Machine Vision are employing equipment that scans pigs' faces and uses artificial intelligence to read their emotions. The benefits are widespread. Not only can the pigs lead happier lives, but animal welfare advocates can rest easier and the farmers can reap the rewards that come with healthier pigs. It is widely understood that happier farm animals are less expensive, requiring fewer steroids and antibiotics and less food. Smith said the early results are very promising, posting a 97 percent accuracy rate. And while some fear that advances like this could threaten to make pig farmers obsolete, an animal welfare scientists working at the same research center said there's no call for concern. "With the way a lot of farming is going globally, where we have much bigger integrated farms, the number of stock people to pigs isn’t necessarily in favor of the pigs," Emma Baxter said. "So by developing a tool that can monitor animals continuously, it would aid farmers rather than replace them."

A peek at pigs:

  • Pigs wallow in mud to keep cool, since they have very few sweat glands.

  • Pigs are quite social, preferring to snuggle together when sleeping and typically dozing nose-to-nose.

  • Winston Churchill liked pigs, saying that "dogs look up to us, cats look down on us, (but) pigs treat us as equals."

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anon1002679
Post 1

Making pigs happy only to eat them later. What a hypocrisy.

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