What is the forefront of research into the often-neglected 'hearts of livestock' such as cows and pigs?

In recent years, research on animal consciousness and cognition has progressed, and it has been found that animals such as dogs and dolphins have high intelligence, but domestic animals such as cows, pigs, and sheep, which are very familiar to humans, also have high intelligence. It is not well known that they are conscious and have high cognitive abilities. The academic journal Science reports on Germany's

Farm Animal Biology Institute (FBN) , which is at the forefront of research on the ``heart of livestock''.

'Not dumb creatures.' Livestock surprise scientists with their complex, emotional minds | Science | AAAS

While research into the cognitive abilities of dogs and dolphins progressed in the 20th century, there was very little research focused on the consciousness and cognitive abilities of cows and pigs, which have long lived alongside humans. This is because livestock are large and difficult to train like dogs, and traditional funders and prestigious academic journals have ignored these studies.

However, over the past 10 years, research on livestock has progressed, and it is gradually becoming clear that cows and pigs also have high cognitive abilities. ``There's a lot we can learn by studying the mental lives of these animals,'' said Christopher Krupenier , who studies animal cognition at Johns Hopkins University, adding that ignoring farm animals is a loss for the scientific community. I'm pointing it out.

The Institute of Livestock Biology in Germany is one of the world's leading research centers that investigates the consciousness of livestock such as cows, pigs, and sheep. The premises are lined with pastures and stables, and a large number of livestock are actually kept there, and the facility is said to be a combination of a farm and a research institute.

As many as 700 pigs are kept in an L-shaped barn on the premises, and in one room there is a treadmill that the pigs can move by pressing a button with their nose. This was training in preparation for an experiment to see if the pigs would exercise to improve their mood, and some pigs reportedly pressed the button seven times in a row and continued walking. 'The idea comes from human sports physiology, where exercise makes you feel good,' says Birger Puppe, a behavioral physiologist at the Institute of Livestock Biology.

In another room of the pig barn, a research team led by animal behaviorist

Liza Moscovice and others is conducting research to determine whether six-week-old piglets have a ``heart of compassion for their friends.'' In the experiment, a large box with a lever was placed in a room with multiple pigs, and when the pigs pulled the lever on the box, the door opened and the pigs inside were trapped. Since the pigs inside cannot open the door, researchers are observing whether the pigs left outside will pull the lever on the box and help the pigs inside.

This experiment was inspired by a case observed in the Czech Republic in 2020 in which a wild boar rescued a fellow animal trapped in a trap. Moscovice's research team reported in a paper that ``pigs rescued their fellow pigs trapped in the box within 20 minutes 85% of the time.''

Pigs outside were more likely to open the box when there was a pig inside than when the box was empty, ruling out the possibility that they were opening the box simply out of curiosity. The researchers also found that pigs that stared at a trapped mate were more likely to help the mate if the mate cried out in pain, suggesting that pigs are sensitive to the emotions of their mates. Moscovice commented, ``We believe that pigs' helping behavior is based on a certain level of understanding of the other person's needs. This is an important element of empathy and is really exciting.'' .

A pig learns that one end of the three boxes has a reward (his favorite food, applesauce), and the other has a punishment (a bag placed over his head). Experiments are also being conducted to see if it can be opened. This was an experiment to find out whether pigs are optimistic or pessimistic; if a pig opens the middle box expecting a reward, it is optimistic; if it does not open the box for fear of punishment, it is pessimistic. It is said to be a sign of.

In addition, there is a cattle research facility about 1 km away from the pig barn, where a ``research on toilet training of cows'', which was published in 2021, was conducted. This study suggested that not only did cows learn to hold in their excrement earlier than human children, but they also have an interoceptive sense that allows them to perceive internal states such as, ``It's about time to excrete.'' It attracted attention as something that changed the conventional perception of cows. Co-author of the paper, Jan Langbein , said, ``Cows are not stupid creatures. They have rich sensitivities and personalities.''

Researchers claim that ``cow toilet training'' can combat global warming and environmental pollution - GIGAZINE

A new study in which Mr. Langbein is participating records the behavior of cows kept in livestock barns in real time and investigates which cows each cow gets along well with or doesn't get along with. Anne-Katrin Pearl , who leads the project, said that if cows are bonded with specific individuals, dairy farmers disrupting social groups by moving cows multiple times a year can have a negative impact on the cow's psyche. I pointed out that there is a possibility that

Previous research has shown that when cows were placed in the same space as their ``best friend'' or ``worst enemy,'' the best friends groomed and played together, while the enemies tended to headbutt each other. Apparently there was a case to start. Pearl and his colleagues are also investigating the cows' heart rates and hormone levels to see how being separated from the herd affects the cows' stress.

'If farmers know which cows like each other, it may be a good idea to keep them together when moving the herd,' Langbein said. Mr. Langbein and his colleagues are trying to change the way farmers handle livestock by publishing their research results not only in scientific papers but also in agricultural magazines and communicating them in language that is easy for ordinary farmers to understand. .

Christian Nauros, who conducts sheep research at the Institute of Livestock Biology, is the person who published the results of a study showing that ``goats given an unsolvable task make eye contact with humans as if asking for help.'' .

Goats make eye contact with humans like domestic dogs - GIGAZINE

Other research conducted by Nauros showed that goats can distinguish between angry and happy faces, and research has shown that goats can learn where humans hide their food. Research has also shown that goats can understand human gestures. A new study is investigating whether goats exhibit altruistic behavior that allows other individuals to obtain food.

'Goats pay a lot of visual attention to what you're doing,' says Nauros. 'They may not look like they have a lot going on in their head, but they just stand there and watch you. 'Even just looking at them, goats are constantly processing information.'

Although livestock biology research institutes are actively conducting research on animal consciousness and cognitive abilities, there are still few laboratories that investigate livestock consciousness, and there are no academic conferences dedicated solely to this topic. When Mr. Nauros first attended a research conference, he was unable to gain understanding from other researchers about the idea of ``researching the minds of domestic animals.'' Are you wasting your time?'' he said.

However, Nauros is promoting an initiative called 'ManyGoats' that connects dozens of livestock researchers around the world and promotes data sharing, and he is optimistic that livestock research will continue to advance. Masu. 'Different species follow different rules,' Nauros said. 'We need to know not only how we see the world, but also how our domestic animals see the world. 'I hope that this series of research will lead to a new respect for livestock.'

Langbein points out that research into the minds of farm animals could influence the way farmers raise their livestock. 'If we don't understand how these animals think, we can't know what they need, and if we don't know that, we can't design better environments,' Langbein said. said.

in Science,   Creature, Posted by log1h_ik