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Do pigs distinguish between situations of different emotional valences during anticipation?

By Sabrina Imfeld-Mueller, Lea Van Wezemael, Markus Stauffacher, Lorenz Gygax, Edna Hillmann

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Abstract

An animal's welfare is strongly affected by its emotional state. Thus, many recent studies have focused on measuring the emotional states and responses of animals. However, there is still a lack of knowledge on assessing positive emotions, although it is widely accepted that positive emotions are needed to ensure good welfare. In the present study, we investigated the physiological and behavioural responses of 16 weaned domestic pigs, Sus scrofa domestica, during anticipation of either a positive or a negative situation. Pigs were conditioned to two different tone sequences, one announcing access to popcorn (positive situation) and the other announcing the task to cross a partially black ramp (negative situation). After a training period, the pigs were tested individually in four trials each of the negative and positive situations. Behavioural and physiological parameters were examined during different phases of the trial. When anticipating the negative situation, the proportion of pigs uttering high-frequency vocalisations was significantly higher (p

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 131
Issue 3
Pages 86-93
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2011.02.009
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Tags
  1. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  2. Heart rate
  3. Pigs
  4. vocalizations