Previous Research

Farm Animal Cognition and Welfare

a pig taking a cognition test

Cognitive processes such as learning, memory, and problem-solving are critically important for animals to adapt to the environments in which they are kept. Because the pig’s psychological processes may impact its physical well-being in a given environment, they have implications for animal production.

For example, a pig’s ability to learn and remember interactions with people raises concerns that if their experiences and memories of those are unpleasant, they may be fearful or distressed and suffer accordingly.  Likewise, production environments that are relatively barren may provide pigs with inadequate mental stimulation, which may cause them to experience psychological distress or suffering in the form of boredom, frustration, and other unpleasant emotional states.

Our research has focused on the cognitive abilities of pigs and their potential applications to their care and management.

We have shown that pigs are capable of fairly complex cognitive processes, such as operant learning, visual and olfactory discriminations and concept formation. 

Project Leaders: Candace Croney (PI)