Journal of Animal Behaviour and Biometeorology
Journal of Animal Behaviour and Biometeorology
Review Article Open Access

Does farm animals experience emotions and feelings?

Miguel Machado, Iran José Oliveira da Silva

Downloads: 3
Views: 1496


In recent years, there has been a great increase in the interest of "emotion" and how it can be studied and translated from animals. Emotions arise when the brain receives an external stimulus, while the feeling is a response to emotion and concerns how the individual feels before that emotion. Emotional states do not exist to be locked within an individual. Emotions are expressed in some way and have great importance for the welfare of animals, especially within the farm animal production chains. The affective side of emotions is more difficult to be studied, however, it takes an effort to evaluate what is observable, registrable and measurable: behavioral and physiological measures that may indicate positive and negative emotional states. It is possible to use behavioral and even physiological information to analyze the feeling and, especially, the immediate emotion that triggers it in animals. The aim of this article is to review the concepts and researches on emotions and feelings in farm animals that may be related to the expression of emotions.


expression, negative stimulus, positive stimulus, welfare


Ahloy-Dallaire J, Espinosa J, Mason G (2018) Play and optimal welfare: Does play indicate the presence of positive affective states? Behav. Processes doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2017.11.011

Allen-Hermanson S (2018) Animal consciousness. Routledge Handb. doi:10.4324/9781315676982

Amaral VL do (2007) A vida afetiva: emoções e sentimentos. Discip. - Psicol. da Educ. 16.

Amd M, de Almeida JH, de Rose JC, Silveira CC, Pompermaier HM (2017) Effects of orientation and differential reinforcement on transitive stimulus control. Behav. Processes doi:10.1016/j.beproc.2017.08.014

Bellegarde LGA, Haskell MJ, Duvaux-ponter C, Weiss A, Boissy A, Erhard HW (2017) Face-based perception of emotions in dairy goats. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. doi:10.1016/j.applanim.2017.03.014

Boissy A, Aubert A, Désiré L, Greiveldinger L, Delval E, Veissier I (2011) Cognitive sciences to relate ear postures to emotions in sheep. Anim. Welf. 20:47–56.

Broom DM (1998) Welfare, Stress, and the Evolution of Feelings. Adv. Study Behav. doi:10.1016/S0065-3454(08)60369-1

Buchli C, Raselli A, Bruckmaier R, Hillmann E (2017) Contact with cows during the young age increases social competence and lowers the cardiac stress reaction in dairy calves. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. doi:10.1016/j.applanim.2016.12.002

Camerlink I, Coulange E, Farish M, Baxter EM, Turner SP (2018) Facial expression as a potential measure of both intent and emotion. Sci. Rep. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-35905-3

Cohen H, Gagné MH, Hess U, Pourcher E (2010) Emotion and object processing in Parkinson’s disease. Brain Cogn. Doi:10.1016/j.bandc.2010.01.001

Coulon M, Nowak R, Peyrat J, Chandèze H, Boissy A, Boivin X (2015) Do lambs perceive regular human stroking as pleasant? behavior and heart rate variability analyses. PLoS One doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0118617

de Vere AJ, Kuczaj SA (2016) Where are we in the study of animal emotions? Wiley Interdiscip. Rev. Cogn. Sci. doi:10.1002/wcs.1399

Feh C, de Mazierès J (1993) Grooming at a preferred site reduces heart rate in horses. Anim. Behav. doi:10.1006/anbe.1993.1309

Forkman B, Boissy A, Meunier-Salaün MC, Canali E, Jones RB (2007) A critical review of fear tests used on cattle, pigs, sheep, poultry and horses. Physiol. Behav. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2007.03.016

Fraser D, Weary DM, Pajor EA, Milligan BN (1997) A scientific conception of animal welfare that reflects ethical concerns. Anim. Welf 6:187-205.

Frondelius L, Järvenranta K, Koponen T, Mononen J (2015) The effects of body posture and temperament on heart rate variability in dairy cows. Physiol. Behav. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2014.12.002

Greve L, Dyson S (2013) The horse-saddle-rider interaction. Vet. J. doi:10.1016/j.tvjl.2012.10.020

Halachmi I, Guarino M, Bewle, J, Pastell M (2018) Smart Animal Agriculture: Application of Real-Time Sensors to Improve Animal Well-Being and Production. Annu. Rev. Anim. Biosci. Doi:10.1146/annurev-animal-020518-114851

Hess U, Thibault P (2009) Darwin and emotion expression. Am. Psychol. doi:10.1037/a0013386

Janczarek I, Stachurska A, Wilk I, Krakowski L, Przetacznik M, Zastrzeżyńska M, Kuna-Broniowska I (2018) Emotional excitability and behaviour of horses in response to stroking various regions of the body. Anim. Sci. J. doi:10.1111/asj.13104

Janczarek I, Wilk I, Stachurska A, Krakowski L, Liss M (2019) Cardiac activity and salivary cortisol concentration of leisure horses in response to the presence of an audience in the arena. J. Vet. Behav. Doi:10.1016/j.jveb.2018.07.007

Kirkden RD, Pajor EA (2006) Using preference, motivation and aversion tests to ask scientific questions about animals’ feelings. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. doi:10.1016/j.applanim.2006.04.009

Lambert (Proctor) H, Carder G (2017) Looking into the eyes of a cow: Can eye whites be used as a measure of emotional state? Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. doi:10.1016/j.applanim.2016.11.005

Lambert H, Carder G (2019) Positive and negative emotions in dairy cows: Can ear postures be used as a measure? Behav. Processes doi:10.1016/j.beproc.2018.12.007

Liu L, Ni J, Li Y, Erasmus M, Stevenson R (2018) Assessment of heat stress in turkeys using animal vocalization analysis. IOP Publushing in ASABE. Acessed on: April 30, 2019

Lürzel S, Barth K, Windschnurer I, Futschik A, Waiblinger S (2018) The influence of gentle interactions with an experimenter during milking on dairy cows’ avoidance distance and milk yield, flow and composition. Animal doi:10.1017/S1751731117001495

Lürzel S, Münsch C, Windschnurer I, Futschik A, Palme R, Waiblinger S (2015) The influence of gentle interactions on avoidance distance towards humans, weight gain and physiological parameters in group-housed dairy calves. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. doi:10.1016/j.applanim.2015.09.004

Lürzel S, Windschnurer I, Futschik A, Waiblinger S (2016) Gentle interactions decrease the fear of humans in dairy heifers independently of early experience of stroking. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. Doi:10.1016/j.applanim.2016.02.012

Mellor DJ (2016) Updating animalwelfare thinking: Moving beyond the “five freedoms” towards “A lifeworth living.” Animals doi:10.3390/ani6030021

Mellor DJ (2015) Enhancing animal welfare by creating opportunities for positive affective engagement. N. Z. Vet. J. doi:10.1080/00480169.2014.926799

Mendl M, Burman OHP, Paul ES (2010) An integrative and functional framework for the study of animal emotion and mood. Proc. R. Soc. B Biol. Sci. doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.0303

Mendl M, Mason GJ, Paul ES (2017) Animal welfare science. APA Handb. Comp. Psychol. Perception, Learn. Cogn. doi:10.1037/0000012-035

Meunier B, Pradel P, Sloth KH, Cirié C, Delval E, Mialon MM, Veissier I (2017) Image analysis to refine measurements of dairy cow behaviour from a real-time location system. Biosyst. Eng. doi:10.1016/j.biosystemseng.2017.08.019

Munsters CCBM, Visser KEK, Van den Broek J, Sloet Van Oldruitenborgh-Oosterbaan MM (2012) The influence of challenging objects and horse-rider matching on heart rate, heart rate variability and behavioural score in riding horses. Vet. J. 192, 75–80.

Oliveira D,  Keeling LJ (2018) Routine activities and emotion in the life of dairy cows : Integrating body language into an affective state framework. Plos One. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0195674

Paul ES, Mendl MT (2018) Animal emotion: Descriptive and prescriptive definitions and their implications for a comparative perspective. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. doi:10.1016/j.applanim.2018.01.008

Proctor HS, Carder G (2015) Measuring positive emotions in cows: Do visible eye whites tell us anything? Physiol. Behav. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2015.04.011

Proctor HS, Carder G (2014) Can ear postures reliably measure the positive emotional state of cows? Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. doi:10.1016/j.applanim.2014.09.015

Raoult CMC, Gygax L (2018) Valence and intensity of video stimuli of dogs and conspecifics in sheep: Approach-avoidance, operant response, and attention. Animals doi:10.3390/ani8070121

Reimert I, Bolhuis JE, Kemp B, Rodenburg TB (2013) Indicators of positive and negative emotions and emotional contagion in pigs. Physiol. Behav. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2012.11.002

Reimert I, Fong S, Rodenburg TB, Bolhuis JE (2017) Emotional states and emotional contagion in pigs after exposure to a positive and negative treatment. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. doi:10.1016/j.applanim.2017.03.009

Rolls ET (2013) What are emotional states, and why do we have them? Emot. Rev. doi:10.1177/1754073913477514

Ross M, Mason GJ (2017) The effects of preferred natural stimuli on humans’ affective states, physiological stress and mental health, and the potential implications for well-being in captive animals. Neurosci. Biobehav. Rev. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2017.09.012

Russell JA (2003) Core Affect and the Psychological Construction of Emotion. Psychol. Rev. doi:10.1037/0033-295X.110.1.145

Scheumann M, Hasting AS, Zimmermann E, Kotz SA (2017) Human Novelty Response to Emotional Animal Vocalizations: Effects of Phylogeny and Familiarity. Front. Behav. Neurosci. doi:10.3389/fnbeh.2017.00204

Schmied C, Waiblinger S, Scharl T, Leisch F, Boivin X (2008) Stroking of different body regions by a human: Effects on behaviour and heart rate of dairy cows. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. doi:10.1016/j.applanim.2007.01.013

Shahin M (2018) The effects of positive human contact by tactile stimulation on dairy cows with different personalities. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. doi:10.1016/j.applanim.2018.04.004

Sheng SR, Wang XY, Xu HZ, Zhu GQ, Zhou YF (2010) Anatomy of large animal spines and its comparison to the human spine: A systematic review. Eur. Spine J. doi:10.1007/s00586-009-1192-5

Špinka M (2012) Social dimension of emotions and its implication for animal welfare. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. doi:10.1016/j.applanim.2012.02.005

Tamioso PR, Maiolino Molento CF, Boivin X, Chandèze H, Andanson S, Delval É, Hazard D, da Silva GP, Taconeli CA, Boissy A (2018) Inducing positive emotions: Behavioural and cardiac responses to human and brushing in ewes selected for high vs low social reactivity. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. doi:10.1016/j.applanim.2018.08.001

Todorov A, Aviezer H (2018) Loud and unclear: untense ueal-uife uocalizations during affective situations are perceptually ambiguous and contextually malleable. Journal of experimental esychology doi:10.1037/xge0000535

Veasey JS (2017) In pursuit of peak animal welfare; the need to prioritize the meaningful over the measurable. Zoo Biol doi:10.1002/zoo.21390

Weary DM, Robbins JA (2019) Understanding the multiple conceptions of animal welfare. Anim. Welf. doi:10.7120/09627286.28.1.033

Westerath HS, Gygax L, Hillmann E (2014) Are special feed and being brushed judged as positive by calves ? Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. doi:10.1016/j.applanim.2014.04.003

Widen SC, Russell JA (2010) Descriptive and prescriptive definitions of emotion. Emot. Rev. doi:10.1177/1754073910374667

Wiśniewska M, Janczarek I, Piwczyński D (2019) The Aging Phenomenon of Horses With Reference to Human–Horse Relations. J. Equine Vet. Sci. doi:10.1016/j.jevs.2018.11.005

Wookey O (2018) The Effect of the Brexit on Animal Welfare in the United Kingdom: A Case for Scepticism and Scrutiny. Derecho Anim. Forum Anim. Law Stud. doi:10.5565/rev/da.340

Submitted date:

Reviewed date:

Accepted date:

5f8dded80e88254514cb468b jabbnet Articles
Links & Downloads

J. Anim. Behav. Biometeorol.

Share this page
Page Sections