A new study has found that pigs respond emotionally to music in a similar fashion to humans.
Berardo de Jesús Rodríguez, a veterinarian and musician at the University of Antioquia composed 16 pieces of music that were either consonant or dissonant.
To humans, consonant music usually sounds pleasant and smooth, whereas dissonance tends to sound jarring and uncomfortable.
The research team then monitored and filmed six litters of 10 to 12 young pigs listening to the pieces of music through a speaker at a university pig farm.
Each piece lasted about three to five minutes and was played in random order with a 3-minute break in between.
Pigs responding to music
The pigs’ body language was scored on 20 emotional parameters, including “content” and “uneasy” using an approach called qualitative behavioral assessment (QBA).
This method looks closely at the animal’s posture, demeanor, and general interaction with their environment to assess their mood and emotional state of mind.
Consonant music caused the pigs to experience positive emotions, whereas dissonant music caused negative emotions. You can see the pigs’ reactions to the different pieces of music here.
Pigs are ‘highly intelligent’
Co-author of the new study, Maria Camila Ceballos, an animal welfare scientist at the University of Calgary, says she and her colleagues chose to research pigs’ emotions because they are highly intelligent and social animals that face serious welfare abuses on factory farms.
Another recent study found that there were clear differences in pig sounds depending on positive and negative situations, proving again that pigs experience emotions just like humans.
Both of these studies add to the ever-growing pile of research that supports calls for welfare on factory farms to be radically improved and calls to end the slaughter of animals that experience emotions such as happiness, fear, and stress in the same way we do.