A new study has revealed that ewe and rams are able to differentiate one another’s facial expressions. With people, they are not able to differentiate between a happy and unhappy sheep, but according to the study, the animals are able to do that https://www.sruc.ac.uk/news/article/1989/here_s_looking_at_ewe. According to researchers at the Scotland Rural College, discovered that facial expressions are important when it comes to affecting the cognitive process of the small ruminants like sheep and goats. The study which incorporated French National Institute for Agriculture Research revealed that sheep can distinguish between negative and neutral facial expressions among themselves. When you compare to other primates, sheep are seen not to have a developed oro-facial musculature, though they are able to show a wide range of facial expressions, more pertaining the ear posture.
Concerning differentiating emotions, it is perceived that if the animals have the ability to perceive emotions in others, then this has an influence on their own emotions. The study was led by Dr. Bellegarde and was published in Frontier in a veterinary science journal. Dr. Bellegarde said that the study indicated that for the inaugural time rams can be able to know and differentiate between what is neutral and negative and facial expressions.
The research covered a range of situations to get reliable results. This saw the exercise photographed sheep in three situations that include sheep’s home, in social isolation and in the social interactions. Then sheep were trained in a simultaneous visual discrimination task. Regarding this, sheep were required to relate one type of the facial expression with a reward. A half of the sheep were assigned with the task of associating the image of a negative facial expression with the reward whereas the other group was to associate the neutral one. At the end of the exercise, all the sheep managed to discriminate the task with the image faces, an indication that sheep are able to discriminate between different facial expressions.