Third Call

  • Call is closed
  • 20 funding organisations involved from 16 countries
  • Total budget of ca. 9.5 Mio €
  • 39 full proposals received
  • 12 projects recommended for funding

SOUNDWEL

 

Toward a tool for farmers to evaluate welfare states of pigs: measuring vocal indicators of emotions

Topic:

Animal Welfare (Topic 3)

Duration of project:

36 Months

Total project costs:

663.548€

Animal group:

Pigs

Principle investigator:

Dr. Céline Tallet, INRA, France

Project partner:

E.T.R.E., France
Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology, Germany
Institute of Animal Science, Czech Republic
Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway
ETH Zürich, Switzerland

Abstract:

Recently, the importance of the impact of mental health on animal welfare has become evident, and animal welfare is now assessed through both physical and mental health. However, tools to scientifically and easily measure the affective lives of animals are still lacking. One promising tool to assess animal emotions is through vocalisations. Our project proposes to develop a robust system for identifying emotions in fattening pigs (from birth to slaughter), using vocalisations, which could be used to obtain welfare outcome indicators on-farm. This will be done by gathering European groups experts on vocal indicators of mental states in pigs (FR, DE, CH, NO, CZ). The project includes three main tasks. The first task aims at identifying vocal indicators of emotions in pigs. This will be done with a meta-analysis on existing and new data recorded within the project. Indeed, the groups already own a large number of audio data recorded in situations associated with different emotions, ranging from stressful husbandry procedures (e.g. castration and handling) to positive situations (e.g. social reunion and post-nursing interactions). Because the recordings vary in terms of pig breed, sex, age and recording technics, we will also carry out more recordings in standardised conditions, in order to obtain a baseline for the recognition system, and in missing situations (positive states and slaughter). The second task aims at developing a recognition tool able to identify emotions using vocalisations. It will consist in testing different classification methods/models, in order to choose the more appropriate to develop a system that could reliably identify pig emotions. Then, the recognition software will be built. The third and last task will consist in testing and validating the system. To this aim, the teams will test it in various situations at their own research stations and onfarm (from birth to slaughter). The final outcome of this project will be an accurate non-invasive system for identifying pig instantaneous emotional states. This system could thus be used on-farm, and serve as a tool to professionals for controlling the welfare threats of pigs (e.g. piglets? crushing, fighting or hunger). They could use it to monitor and improve pig welfare by minimising stress and encouraging positive emotions. To achieve this goal, the management task will include training for farmers in the different countries (in addition to scientific and technical communication).

 

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