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News Article

Virtual tours offer insights into pig husbandry


Use of virtual reality glasses, tablet screens examined

Many consumers would like to see better animal welfare and transparency in livestock farming. In recent years, agriculture has increasingly tried to be more open, for example through farm tours. Even though farm tours are well received or appreciated by the public, they are not really feasible for the vast majority of people because of hygiene requirements or accessibility. To overcome these limitations, researchers at the University of Göttingen investigated the perception and potential of virtual farm tours. The results are published in the open access PLoS ONE.

Seventeen students without agricultural backgrounds were recruited to participate in a qualitative study. After answering a short questionnaire, the participants watched a 360-degree video of a conventional pig fattening pen via a portable computer screen (tablet) and virtual reality glasses. They then reported on their experiences via an interview.

The participants had a rather negative perception of the pig fattening pen with respect to animal welfare. The perception depended on both the recording perspective and the media device. However, most of the participants perceived housing conditions more positively in comparison with what they had in mind prior to the study. They appreciated the opportunity to do a virtual farm tour and found it to be a suitable tool for improving transparency and for conveying information about housing conditions. The virtual reality glasses, in particular, conveyed a very realistic impression and were seen as particularly entertaining, while the tablet was considered to be beneficial as it was easier to handle.

According to lead author Aurelia Schütz, the results show that the tool is worth using and that further investigations on the potential of such innovative tools should be carried out. She added that virtual farm tours could be a useful means of communicating what different housing systems are like.

The study concluded that virtual farm tours should be supported by supplementary information since participants asked for additional explanations about the stable.

Schütz, A., Kurz K., Busch, G. (2022). Virtual farm tours—Virtual reality glasses and tablets are suitable tools to provide insights into pig husbandry. PLoS ONE 17(1): e0261248. doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0261248

Article details

  • Date
  • 24 February 2022
  • Source
  • University of Göttingen
  • Subject(s)
  • Animal breeding and genetics