Sunday, February 24, 2008

Just how smart are pigs?

You may have had someone tell you pigs are pretty smart animals. If not, you could be surprised to learn that some think their intelligence rivals that of dogs. In any case, what follows is an interesting link and a video showing a pig in action.

Let's start with the video. This pig is called Mudslinger and you'll hear the trainer saying it's less than a year old. It'd be fairly amazing to see a child of 12 months doing what this animal does, let alone a baby pig.



Penn State University conducted research between 1996 and 1998. They showed that pigs can be taught to maneuver a modified joystick to move a cursor on a video monitor.

For rewards of M&M's, Skittles or Reese's Pieces, the pigs moved the cursor over to a target, then used the cursor to distinguish among scribbles drawn by the researcher's grandchild.

The pigs were shown one scribble, then a few seconds later shown the same scribble along with a second. They used the joystick and cursor to distinguish between the scribble they had seen before and the one they were seeing for the first time.

The pigs learned these tasks within 5 to 10 attempts, "very quickly, as quickly as chimpanzees", said researcher Stanley Curtis, then professor of dairy and animal science and now an adjunct animal sciences professor at the University of Illinois.

For more on this research, click here.

But are pigs smarter than dogs?

Both pigs and dogs are quite smart, says Brenda Coe, adjunct assistant professor of animal science, who helped Curtis in the initial stages of his work and also teaches dog behavior in a canine management class. But "intelligence" in animals is typically defined in a limited way, as the ability to learn what people try to teach them.



The point of discussing pig intelligence is that when you consider that the animal which can distinguish between drawings or learn to push a soccer ball into a goal on command is no different from the one trapped in hellish circumstances in factory farms you're left with an inescapable conclusion: The pigs are smart enough to think, suffer and feel miserable.

We eat factory farmed pork without realising what it truly equates to. The life-long suffering of intelligent, gentle animals.




45 comments:

smilebabe said...

I have seen a factory pig farm in action.Baby pigs have their tails cut off with a pair of scissors!
Dead pigs (why are they dead?) have been dumped into a huge pit in the ground & left uncovered.
The pigs had access to water by pressing their snout against a button on the wall of their pen.
Who says they are not smart?
Ban pig farming & stop everyone eating the babe.

daydreamymama said...

Pigs are smart, clean, affectionate animals. I do believe that most people are unaware of how bad conditions are in factory farms. Even dedicated meat- and dairy-eaters might at least switch to truly free-range animals (of all kinds) if they really knew how bad it was for these animals on factory farms. (I like to think so, anyway.) Thanks for raising awareness!
-Catherine

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I love pigs!

They are so lovely!
I -of course- wouldn't eat them.

Anonymous said...

i love pigs.....but i also love meat....it's hard to decide between the 2

Anonymous said...

lol im obsessed with pigs!! they are like me life....

ccerealg said...

Haha. Ok i LOVE pigs but i love bacon and sausage! What should i choose??

MarkLien said...

What learned behaviour traits do wild pigs use and pass down without human interference; some simians use a boulder in a specific way to crack a nut. This to me would demonstrate independent problem solving, at least originally, and the use of tools which I equate to intelligence.
It would also show an awareness of their environment which, by extension, shows an awareness of self. Without an awareness of self I'm not sure you can assert emotions, since they exist as more complex motivators than just hunger. If I see that then I'll start feeling bad about eating ham until then I don't care.

Luke said...

Mark, it may be relevant to ask yourself whether you would care if dogs were kept in factories, mistreated and killed having never once seen daylight. By your logic, the only animal worthy of being humanely treated are primates. It may interest you to know that even up to the 1800's children were thought to be incapable of feeling.
So long as it becomes a matter of degree then you need to accept the possibility that you may simply no know enough to assert that your test of emotional experience is valid.

peaches said...

i effing love pigs...i own one myself,you'd be amazed just how intelligent they really are,and they are extremly affectionate,just like a puppy or kitty...but also
i love meat,and i don't belive i could live without it....so i eat beef and chicken,NO PORK! i couldn't imagine eating my little piggys kin folk,ha...and also these pigs feel pain just as we do...how would you feel if ya were a pig and had no say in wheather or not you get ground into spam!

rolling said...

Sadly, for pigs, one would say they are relatively ugly compared to say dogs and cats, so people have very little compassion for them. Americans do not like to eat "cute" animals for the most part. I feel very bad for pigs but like many others, I like bacon, sausage and many other pork products.

Vecheslav (Slava) Volkov said...

Many comment posters that say "I love pigs, and I love pork. What do I choose?" miss the point, which is that animal cruelty should be stopped, regardless of your culinary preference.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the last poster. I think it really has to do with animal cruelty. Even if I owned a pig myself I would probably still consume sausage, bacon, ham, smoked ham, pork chops, etc. That doesn't change the fact that the pigs are kept in terrible conditions. I don't know if anyone has ever taken a look at cattle conditions especially in the central valley of california, but those animals live in their own fecal matter. The thing is that they atleast get to be outside. Pig farms seem to have high walls or be away from any source of human visitors. I have never seen one before, but my dad tells me stories.

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PigLoather said...

PigKiller4Life

I think pigs should all die. They are pink, which is an awful color. They make awkward noises. Most importantly, they are not smarter than humans. Anything less intelligent than humans deserves to die. Anthroppocentrism is obviously true. Look in your bible. Genesis 1:28 mentions it.

pigfarmerinpa said...

You people think you are so smart? Pigs have their tails cut off because they are bored that they chew each others tails and then they get infected. Infections grow quickly in pigs. It's not with scissors either. It's a tail cutter just like they use on dogs in the vets office. 2nd, they live indoors because birds are a big threat to pigs. They carry diseases that make the sows sick and then when they have babies, the babies suffer until they die! Sounds like a good idea to keep them in doesn't? 3rd, It is against the law to just dump pigs & not cover them. Maybe when you saw this you should of considered going back to see if they were covered. 4ht, I would like to know what is wrong with automatic waterers?? You would be the first to complain if you would go to a farm & see water buckets dumped over & empty because they are bored & dumped their water buckets out of play. A pig doesn't care to push on a water nipple as they are drinking. At least they have access to water 24/7. Are you a farmer? I would think not! If you were you would understand & not make such remarks! Why don't you leave the farmers alone and mind your own business!! By the way, pigs are smart!

Anonymous said...

Hey pig farmer in Pa., just because you farm pigs doesn't mean your the last word on pig psychology or the only one qualified to comment on their husbandry.
(For one thing, the tail chewing is not because they are "bored", it's because they are packed together like sardines and have developed neurotic tendencies much the way some caged birds pluck their own feathers). Pigs can be farmed in an manner which lets the pig lead a normal healthy pig life, and no, they don't have to be kept indoors. I bet your gran-pappy raised his pigs outdoors just fine. We'll leave the industrial pig farmers alone when they start placing ethics over profits!

Buy Viagra said...

Hi they are so smart the hogs are super the most intelligent animal from the entire kingdom .

Anonymous said...

Lozers! piggys r awsome

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Anonymous said...

It is probably one of the most naive beliefs among humans that we are the ultimate species. We just happen to get lucky enough to evolve faster which is not always relevant to intelligence. I think we should stop to rethink where our priorities for eating animals are. Many people say that eating dolphins is wrong because they are already threatened in their enviroment and are intelligent. Well, if anything pigs are threatened in their own enviroment! Poor conditions are often life threatning!
Poor management among mass-meat producers can over heat and freeze pigs to death in their pens! Pigs are not only treated wrong in life, but constant accidental daths don't even reach the public because it's not imporant enough!

Anonymous said...

pigkiler4life,,... you should be killed too. Because you believe in the bible whose content is worse than pig feces.

Adrian said...

Ok so pigs are smart..
not that smart i mean that video just proved that they may be as intelligent as a slow dog i was hoping they may have a better video which showed a truely smart pig at work but almost anything can be trained so it wasn't that amazing granted that pig was so adorable ^^

Anonymous said...

wow, pigkiler you need help. i raise a pig in my back yard. i treat it well and feed it well. soon it will feed me well.

Anonymous said...

Guys, please let's be serious on this. Pigs are pigs. They can be intelligent, fine, perhaps more intelligent than veals, fine, but they are evil too. Do you guys know that adult pigs would eat their piglets? Pigs are ferocious animals, the father is always kept away from the piglets otherwise he will eat all of them. Have a good bacon and sausage. Love

Anonymous said...

I love pigs!

Walter Jeffries said...

We raise hundreds of pigs on pasture on our farm as well as a large pack of livestock working dogs to guard and herd our animals. The dogs are far more intelligent than the pigs. If you split a pig's heads in half you find a brain of about the size of a small chicken egg, just a few ounces, in an animal that weighs 1,000 lbs.

Dogs have far bigger brains and more importantly they have cooperation between pack members. The dogs have self recognition and far more complex language than the pigs. The dogs learn things faster and of greater complexity than the pigs.

Pigs on the other hand are very good at being pigs, at eating and growing fast. Pigs are very self-centered so they don't do the level of cooperative behavior found in packs or, of course, in humans.

Our brains are orders of magnitude larger on the absolute and relative scale.

Pigs are good at being pigs but they're not dogs and certainly not the equals of humans.

sophie said...

Wow, interesting! And I just love that picture where the pig wonders about spam! Piggy, need not worry, getting spam doesn't mean that you are not smart! lol!
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Wown I'm surprised :O

Anonymous said...

whoever does not like pigs is an as. i have my own potbelly pig. pigs are defintly smarter than dogs i mean could u pody train a puppy in 5 days. thats how long it took me to train my pig to go pody outsidde. its really not fair how they treat pigs.

Charlie Shread said...

I love my brother, but every time I hack off a bit of his flesh and eat it, it tastes so good.
What do I choose?

People who say "it's hard to choose, because I love meat so much", obviously are lacking genuine care, because if you truly cared, you wouldn't have to think twice between:
1) Kill a conscious experiencing creature for selfish indulgence
2) Keep it alive and eat something else tasty and healthy

blackbird said...

I think part of the point is that people are going to eat meat...However, the meat that does get eaten can come from a more pleasant and natural environment. We can't force a decision or idea on anyone else. The ONLY person any of us has control over is our self. If you feel compelled to stop eating meat... stop. If not, maybe find another brand that supports more comfortable conditions for their livestock.

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Anonymous said...

Who cares how smart they are, they're going in my stomach!

Unknown said...

As someone who has actually dealt with pigs, let me tell you: anyone who calls them gentle animals has absolutely no idea what they're talking about. Pigs may be reasonably intelligent, but they're actually pretty mean animals. Not exactly surprising, but there it is.

Seriously, there's a line between trying to garner sympathy and outright lies, and calling pigs "gentle" falls way over said line. Ever seen a wild boar?

Yeah. Not nice.

Unknown said...

Pigs, while intelligent, are far from "gentle" or "nice". Having actually dealt with pigs personally, they're really pretty fierce, unfriendly, and generally surly animals.

Ever see a wild boar? Probably not, but they aren't exactly nice.

Anonymous said...

Walter Jeffries said:"Pigs are good at being pigs but they're not dogs and certainly not the equals of humans."
You're right, they certainly aren't equal to that of humans. Humans are the only animal sick enough to knowingly and willingly kill, torture, and eat another of its kind. Not to mention have sex with a dead, rotting corpse aka necrophilia. Not pigs, not dogs, but humans. Yup, nothing can compare to the sickness of the human mind. On the flip side we're also the only ones capable of baking delicious pies and building flying tubes known as airplanes. Brilliant? Without a doubt. However, more often than not individuals, species, and cultures are judged not by their achievements but rather their flaws. Everything ends and one day the human race will meet its end. At least dinosaurs can say slash roar about the fact that they got taken out by an asteroid. Us humans however will most likely be the cause of our own demise; no one to blame but ourselves, our arrogance and our selfish greed...and white people of course. Just kidding, I love Nancy Kerrigan

Anonymous said...

I agree!! The pigs that are kept in the small areas inside those prison cells it's in humane period.

Anonymous said...

Factory farms are mega-depressing. Perhaps with the nation-wide drought corporate farms will have to scale back, giving small local farms a chance. I know I'm happier paying more for a local product where I can see with my own eyes that the animals are treated well. Maybe other people will be as well when they get a chance to see and taste the difference.

Anonymous said...

We farm our own pigs. We have for many years. They've always been outside and have not once had a sow get a disease from birds. Although my family has our own farm, and it's all free range, I still choose not to eat meat. I'm an ovo-lacto vegetarian. And have been for 7 years now. However, I do not force vegetarianism among others. It's a personal choice. I'm extremely against animal abuse of all kinds, and stand my grounds to those who encourage it.
-Ryley

Anonymous said...

Pigs eat people!
BBC - Oregon farmer eaten by his pigs

Anonymous said...

The tragedy is that oinkers are so delicious.

Anonymous said...

hunt wild pigs for food. all organic, free range, live a good life and completely destroy the environment. Best of all worlds.

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Anonymous said...

Intelligence does not rely on the brain's size. It's MOSTLY from the way the neurons in the brains are wired together (like the wrinkles on a human brain).Just look at crows and blue whales, which is smarter? Crows can remember our faces (don't mess with them with a garden hose), the places that are dangerous, routes to those places. And they are capable of language that differ from regions, and use that language to describe the stuff in the previous sentence ( the hold grudges to, so don't be surprised to have the kids of the crow you tortured bomb-diving at you). Pea brained doesn't mean stupid all the time. And pigs aren't evil or stupid or dirty like in the bible. Animals deserve rights to! I wish they do in my country...T_T

Anonymous said...

I have a pet pig that is 7 weeks old and is already potty trained and knows sit, dance, spin, and bow. Pigs are smart. They can also be mean. I feel bad for the pigs that are born and raised poorly, just to be eaten, but I don't thimk that's going to change.

Anonymous said...

Pigkiler seriously? Not only do you believe the shit in the Bible but you like to kill innocent beings just because they have a different skin colour? There was a civil war in america over skin colour and yet you post things like this here, you need help