CANBERRA, Dec 8 AAP – Australian scientists have set themselves the challenge of understanding the minds of animals and what they are feeling.
A team based at the CSIRO aims to use the study to reduce stress and pain in livestock.
“The challenge is to gain insights – in a scientifically rigorous way – into how animals’ minds work,” CSIRO scientist Caroline Lee said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Ultimately, the outcomes of this research will expand on our understanding of emotional and cognitive functions of livestock and the impacts of farming practices on animal welfare.”
The research is being funded by Meat and Livestock Australia.
Dr Lee said previous studies of animal behaviour provided limited information.
“Until now the major gap in our ability to assess animal welfare has been our capacity to understand the emotional states of animals in different farming situations.
“With increased public concern about the welfare of animals, and consumers seeking ‘animal welfare-friendly’ products, Australia’s livestock industries are focused on improving farming practices to meet changing expectations.”
“It is also internationally recognised that we must quantify not only the biological cost but also the emotional cost of animals used for production of food and fibre.”
The study will use cognitive principles based on human psychological theories to assess animal emotions.