Fri. Aug 12th, 2022

Pigs and a playlist? Farmer finds his pigs are happier when they hear music

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Should every pig have a playlist? 

Scientists in Belgium are investigating a farmer’s claim that different styles of music are affecting the behavior of his pigs.

Piet Paesmans first noticed the phenomenon when his son started singing a tune in the barn during a sluggish insemination session.

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His sows seemed to perk up at the tune — and even began wagging their tails.

“I thought this is too good to pass up — [that] we should try that with the other pigs, too,” Paesmans told Reuters.

His farm is located halfway between Brussels and the Dutch border.

A pig on a farm. One farmer in Belgium has created a music playlist for his pigs for use at different times of the day.  

A pig on a farm. One farmer in Belgium has created a music playlist for his pigs for use at different times of the day.  
(Anna Sweet/Sweet Farm)

The farmer has now created a playlist for different parts of the day.

When he wants the pigs to be active, he plays upbeat music

He then changes over to lullabies at the end of the day, Reuters reported.

“Jolly dance songs are the biggest hits,” he said about his pigs’ preferences.

“They really start wagging their tails and when it’s really dynamic, they even start dancing around and frolicking,” he said. 

“Jolly dance songs are the biggest hits,” the farmer said about his pigs’ preferences. 

Ah, but rock music — that doesn’t work, he told Reuters.

“It’s too strong — they don’t like it,” he said.

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The farmer tipped off a team of researchers who have secured over $76,000 in financing from an EU fund and the Belgian region of Flanders to investigate the claims, Reuters reported.

The farmer’s experience is in line with existing knowledge about the effects of sounds in general on animals.

Project coordinator Sander Palmans told Reuters that not much is known about pigs’ reaction to music.

A piglet scampers in the grass. "There is without a doubt an effect of specific noises on animals," the farmer in Belgium said of his pigs' reactions to music.

A piglet scampers in the grass. “There is without a doubt an effect of specific noises on animals,” the farmer in Belgium said of his pigs’ reactions to music.
(VOLODYMYR BURDYAK)

Yet Paesmans’ experience is in line with existing knowledge about the effects of sounds in general on animals.

“There is without a doubt an effect of specific noises on animals. So it’s really possible that music can have the same effect,” he said, adding that it could help relieve boredom — which has been linked to stress.

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The new findings may have practical impacts for the industry, as meat quality is affected by stress in animals, Paesmans said.

Pigs certainly aren’t the first animals known to react to music.

“A top athlete needs to be completely fit physically, but also mentally,” he told Reuters. “And that’s just the same for pigs. When they are slaughtered, you can see when they’ve had too much stress … It’s really important for the quality of the meat.”

The results of the research are expected by the end of the year.

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Pigs certainly aren’t the first animals known to react to music.

Research done in 2015 at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, for example, found that cats are highly responsive to certain types of music.

They really like music written just for them, apparently.

Several-week-old pigs stand in a pen inside a barn at Paustian Enterprises in Walcott, Iowa, in Nov. 2014. The results of the research on pigs in Belgium is expected by the end of the year.

Several-week-old pigs stand in a pen inside a barn at Paustian Enterprises in Walcott, Iowa, in Nov. 2014. The results of the research on pigs in Belgium is expected by the end of the year.
(REUTERS)

Charles Snowden, lead author of the 2015 study and an emeritus professor in psychology, said that the scientists weren’t trying to replicate cat sounds.

“We are trying to create music with a pitch and tempo that appeals to cats,” Snowden said in a statement, as The Badger Herald noted in an article about the study.

“To test the music, Snowden and former UW undergraduate student Megan Savage played music for 47 cats,” The Badger Herald reported. 

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“They played four samples, two from classical music and two cat music selections.”

The study, which appeared in Applied Animal Behavior Science, found that positive responses from the cats to the music were “purring and walking to the speaker” — while “a negative response was hissing and arching the back.”

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“When the cats listened to the cat music, the response was significantly more positive than the human music. Cats reacted positively to cat music after 110 seconds, compared to 171 seconds for human music.”

Reuters contributed reporting to this article. 



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