Scientists can now translate pig grunts

After studying thousands of recordings, scientists are now able to read the emotions of pigs based on the sound of their grunts.

Scientists have gathered 7000 recordings of pig grunts from a diverse range of situations, to learn how to read the emotions of the cute little farm animals.

The recordings were studied by researchers at the University of Copenhagen, the ETH Zurich and the France’s National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE), led by Associate Professor Elodie Briefer.

Scientists can understand pig grunts
Credit: Getty Images

“With this study, we demonstrate that animal sounds provide great insight into their emotions. We also prove that an algorithm can be used to decode and understand the emotions of pigs, which is an important step towards improved animal welfare for livestock,” Briefer explained.

So what did they find?

Apparently, if a pig lets out a short grunt, it means they’re happy. Short grunts usually occurred when the pigs were feeding, or reunited with their family after separation (awwwww).

In negative situations such as separation, or fights with other pigs, higher frequency calls were more common, described as screams and squeals.

“There are clear differences in pig calls when we look at positive and negative situations. In the positive situations, the calls are far shorter, with minor fluctuations in amplitude,” Briefer elaborated.

“Grunts, more specifically, begin high and gradually go lower in frequency. By training an algorithm to recognize these sounds, we can classify 92% of the calls to the correct emotion,” she continued.

Researchers hope their findings will be developed into an app which farmers can use to improve the lives of their piggies. BRB, we need to find out how to invest.