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Vocalizations carry emotional, physiological and individual information. This suggests that they may serve as potentially useful indicators for inferring animal welfare. At the same time, automated methods for analysing and classifying sound have developed rapidly, particularly in the fields of ecology, conservation and sound scene classification. These methods are already used to automatically classify animal vocalizations, for example, in identifying animal species and estimating numbers of individuals. Despite this potential, they have not yet found widespread application in animal welfare monitoring. In this review, we first discuss current trends in sound analysis for ecology, conservation and sound classification. Following this, we detail the vocalizations produced by three of the most important farm livestock species: chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus), pigs (Sus scrofa domesticus) and cattle (Bos taurus). Finally, we describe how these methods can be applied to monitor animal welfare with new potential for developing automated methods for large-scale farming.


Open access article