Researchers Develop Award-Winning App To Help Farmers Understand Emotional Wellbeing Of Their Animals

November 29, 2021

Using an app developed by Scotland's Rural college, Waitrose dairy farmers are recording the behavior of their cows to better understand and improve the animals' emotional lives.

animal well being app for farms

The app earned Waitrose and Scotland's Rural College one of the top prizes at last weeks BBC's Food & Farming Awards.

The method allows animal welfare inspectors to record different expressive qualities of behaviour through the app, such as being relaxed, tense, playful or anxious - behaviours that are indicative of an animal's emotional body language and possible signs of their general well-being.

This will help them better understand the mood the animals are experiencing while interacting with each other and their environment.

"Animals have feelings just like humans - they can get stressed or feel joyful. Also like human beings, they are sometimes incredibly difficult to read and it's only through a process of observation and learning that we can better understand them," says Professor Francoise Wemelsfelder, a senior researcher at SRUC.

"This app and the scientific method behind it is therefore about getting to know how different animals, and different animal species, express their feelings so that we can not only understand them better, but also care for them better. Farmers and stock people who work with animals every day will have already acquired a lot of this understanding over the years, and our app wants to support and build on this.

By paying attention to, caring for, and assessing an animal's emotional state in addition to their physical state of health, we will now be able to continue working together on providing animals on Waitrose farms with opportunities to experience a good life."

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