A free range pig roaming around in its pen

Proof that chickens and pigs have emotions and feelings



Animal sentience means that animals possess consciousness, emotions, and distinct personalities. We've rounded up some interesting facts on chickens and pigs.

Were you aware that chickens have the ability to distinguish as many as 100 faces, while pigs can learn their names within a short two-week span? Unfortunately, even though chickens and pigs display remarkable intelligence and emotions, they don't really have the best PR in the animal kingdom.

It's time to learn more about them, so we've compiled a set of five intriguing facts about chickens, alongside an additional five facts about pigs, that might surprise you.

Nose of pig in wood

Did you know that...

🐷 Pigs respond emotionally to music?

Yes, that's right! And not only that, the structure of the music is important as well. Some types of music may trigger fear in pigs, whereas others make them feel playful, calm or happy.

🐷 Pigs love to play?

It actually makes them feel good. When they are playing and feeling positive, pigs move their tails more and move their ears less.

🐷 Pigs can feel scared and you can tell?

When pigs are scared or retreat from an attack, they place their ears back on their heads and slightly close their eyes.

🐷 Pigs calm down when they engage in positive social behaviour?;

Anxiety levels in pigs reduce faster after a fight when they can engage in positive social behaviours with other pigs. This is known as social buffering, and it can help protect the emotional state of pigs.

🐷 Pigs make a range of facial expressions?

Pigs make facial expressions to signal aggressive intentions, including shortening their snout and pointing their ears forwards.

A chicken up close staring into the camera

Did you know that...

πŸ” Chickens' eye temperature decreases when they are stressed?

This happens when chickens are in a fight or flight situation. Their blinking rate decreases as well while their head and beak area increases in temperature. It's a really helpful way for us humans to tell how a chicken is feeling and whether they are relaxed or stressed.

πŸ” Chickens can be in a low mood?

Sadly, chicks that hatch in highly industrialised conditions, for example in a commercial hatchery, can be pessimistic and have low moods for at least 10 weeks after hatching.

πŸ” Fast-growing broiler breeds are more fearful?

They also show less play, and less explorative behaviour than other slower-growing breeds.

πŸ” Living conditions can influence how positive a chicken feels?

Broiler chickens who are kept in more environmentally complex pens have a more optimistic outlook, and a more positive mood, compared with those kept in low-complexity pens.

πŸ” Chickens dream

Similarly to dogs and cats, who can be very expressive when dreaming of a chase, chickens also have very vivid dreams. They experience rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep, but researchers don’t yet know what they dream about. If only we could know!

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Pigs and chickens are sentient beings, meaning they can feel emotions like pain, fear, pleasure and joy

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