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An Interactive Feeder to Induce and Assess Emotions from Vocalisations of Chickens

Tijdschriftbijdrage - Tijdschriftartikel

Understanding the emotional states of animals is a long-standing research endeavour that has clear applications in animal welfare. Vocalisations are emerging as a promising way to assess both positive and negative emotional states. However, the vocal expression of emotions in birds is a relatively unexplored research area. The goal of this study was to develop an interactive feeding system that would elicit positive and negative emotional states, and collect recordings of the vocal expression of these emotions without human interference. In this paper, the mechatronic design and development of the feeder is described. Design choices were motivated by the desire for the hens to voluntarily interact with the feeder and experience the different stimuli that were designed to induce (1) positive low-arousal, (2) positive high-arousal, (3) negative low-arousal, and (4) negative high-arousal states. The results showed that hens were motivated to engage with the feeder despite the risk of receiving negative stimuli and that this motivation was sustained for at least 1 week. The potential of using the interactive feeder to analyse chicken vocalisations related to emotional valence and arousal is being explored, offering a novel proof of concept in animal welfare research. Preliminary findings suggest that hens vocalised in response to all four stimulus types, with the number of vocalisations, but not the probability of vocalising, distinguishing between low- and high-arousal states. Thus, the proposed animal-computer interaction design has potential to be used as an enrichment device and for future experiments on vocal emotions in birds.
Tijdschrift: Animals
ISSN: 2076-2615
Issue: 9
Volume: 14
Jaar van publicatie:2024