Belgian pig farmer Piet Paesman says his pigs are connoisseurs of sorts when it comes to “jolly good dance songs,” and now, researchers are investing over $76,000 in finding out more. Paesman’s 10-year-old son started singing a song during a long and unexciting artificial insemination session, and immediately, the pig’s tails started wagging, and their ears pricked to listen.
Inspired by his sow’s reaction, Paesman has created music playlists for his other pigs. Paying particular attention to the type of music he’s playing, Paesman says that selection is critical. Some music is played to induce exercise and reduce boredom, while lullabies are perfect for when it’s time for the piggies to go to bed.
Beyond improving his pig’s quality of life, Paesman also believes that a good tune enhances the quality of the pork he produces. Except rock music, which he says they don’t like — it stresses them out.
According to Reuters, Paesman’s observations have inspired a team of researchers to secure funds to explore further the sounds that affect pigs. So far, the researchers have secured the equivalent of about $76,770 to investigate the farmer’s claims.
While there’s no doubt that outside stimulus can affect animals and that reducing stress is vital in any agricultural animal setting, music might be a contributor to healthier, happier pigs. Farmers already provide enrichment material to reduce stress through boredom — scientists believe music might be another stimulus to provide enrichment.
Paesman told Reuters that reduced stress improves meat quality and that, “A top athlete needs to be completely fit physically, but also mentally. And that’s just the same for pigs. When they are slaughtered, you can see when they’ve had too much stress. … It’s really important for the quality of the meat.”