Source: Science

The Research Institute for Farm Animal Biology (FBN) in northern Germany is at the forefront of investigating the mental and emotional lives of farm animals, challenging the notion that livestock are unintelligent and undeserving of scientific attention. Scientists at FBN are studying the cognitive abilities of pigs, goats, cows, and other farm animals, revealing surprising findings. Pigs have shown signs of empathy, goats display social intelligence comparable to dogs, and cows have been potty trained, challenging the perception that farm animals lack self-awareness.

The research aims to improve our understanding of these animals’ needs, potentially influencing how they are housed and treated. Challenges in the field include the size of farm animals, difficulty in training them, and limited funding and recognition from traditional scientific outlets. Despite obstacles, researchers believe studying farm animal cognition provides valuable insights into evolution and human cognition and can contribute to better treatment and welfare practices for these animals. The work is part of a growing field challenging the previous neglect of livestock in scientific research.

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