A project at from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) Pig Research Centre is hoping to improve animal well-being by utilizing facial recognition technology to determine the emotional state of pigs.

Scientists aim to develop a tool to monitor a pig’s expression to find out whether the animal is content or distressed, and alert farmers to health and welfare problems.

Dr. Emma Baxter from SRUC said the research can be beneficial to farmers because of its ability to identify pig health issues early, which can lead to quicker solutions to the problem and implementing tailored treatment.  

They began by capturing 3D and 2D facial images of a breeding sow population, which was then processed at the University of West England (UWE Bristol) where techniques are developed to automatically identify different emotions.

Professor Melvyn Smith from UWE Bristol’s Centre for Machine Vision claims that the technology has the potential to become a low-cost, non-intrusive, and practical means to biometrically identify individual animals on a farm.

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