Gygax, Lorenz and Nawroth, Christian (2019) Farm animals are not humans in sheep clothing. Animal Sentience 25(25)
Lori Marino and Debra Merskin, Intelligence, complexity, and individuality in sheep
Research on the mental lives of farm animals is crucial to assess not only their physical but also their psychological wellbeing. Their current housing and handling practices are highly unlikely to meet their cognitive needs and demands, but our knowledge of their mental capacities is still limited. Although folk wisdom often refers to farm animals as dull and inflexible, recent studies show they have a rich interpretation of their environment and can solve complex problems. Yet an uncritical and anthropomorphic assessment of farm animal cognition and behaviour may lead to the attribution of an exaggerated amount of cognitive flexibility. Contrary to what Marino & Merskin intended, the approach of assessing their intelligence can have detrimental consequences both for animal welfare and for science in general.