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Scientists Find Tell-Tale Signs of Content Goats

04 December 2014

UK – Happy goats point their ears forward and their tails up, according to new animal welfare insights.

More stable bleating occurs when goats are in a positive state too, says Dr Alan McElligott, Queen Mary University of London.

The research is expected to impact on animal care, given the increased desire for consumers to buy products respecting animal welfare.

A wealth of research and knowledge exists on identifying negative emotions, but positive states have been a little more elusive, explained Dr McElligott.

He said: “Subtle hints from goats like small changes in their calls, their heart rate or the position of their ears tell us about what state it is in and could indicate whether their environment is good for their welfare or not."

Co-author of the paper, which appeared in the journal Animal Behaviour, Dr Elodie Briefer said: "In this study, we were able to identify not only indicators of emotional arousal, but also whether emotions were positive or negative.

"Such indicators are important for the welfare of the animals, because they tell us when the animals are experiencing a negative versus a positive emotion, and we can thus adapt the environment to avoid negative emotions and promote positive ones.”

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