Study: Pigs Aren’t Just “Grunting, They’re Communicating

According to a new article in Science Daily, U.K. researchers have devised a way to study the relationship between personality and vocalization in pigs.

The researchers observed 72 male and female juvenile pigs in various environments. Mary Friel, lead author of the study and doctoral student at Queen’s University Belfast, said:
The aim of this research was to investigate what factors affect vocalisations in pigs so that we can better understand what information they convey. Understanding how the vocalisations of pigs relate to their personality will also help animal behaviourists and welfare experts have a clearer picture of the impact those personalities have on communication, and thus its role in the evolution of social behaviour and group dynamics in social species.
The study found that pigs with more proactive personalities produced grunts at a higher rate than the more reactive animals. Additionally, the study found that male pigs are influenced more by environmental factors than female pigs.

Dr. Lisa Collins, a specialist in animal health, behavior, and welfare epidemiology in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Lincoln, explains:
The sounds they make convey a wide range of information such as the emotional, motivational and physiological state of the animal. For example, squeals are produced when pigs feel fear, and may be either alerting others to their situation or offering assurance. Grunts occur in all contexts, but are typical of foraging to let other members of the group know where they are.
This isn’t the first study to show that pigs are complex creatures. In fact, pigs are reported to have higher IQs than dogs, chimpanzees, and even three-year-old humans.

While it’s great to acknowledge that pigs are intelligent, intelligence should not be a benchmark for how we treat animals. All animals, including farmed animals, are sentient beings who experience a spectrum of emotions. As famed philosopher Jeremy Bentham wrote, “The question is not, can they reason? Nor, can they talk? But, can they suffer?

Keep pigs and all animals off your plate by switching to a compassionate vegan diet.

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