Some cows are sadder than others: UBC study

Researchers say not all cows in the herd are the same

You might think that every cow in a herd is the same, but a UBC study suggests some cows are sadder than others.

Animal welfare researchers trained a group of 22 calves to expect that a bottle placed in a hole on one side of the room would contain milk, while one placed on the opposite side would only blow a puff of air into the calves’ muzzles.

Then, the researches placed a bottle in a hole between the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bottles and watched to see which calves were willing to try and see if it had milk.

The researchers believed that the most optimistic calves would approach the new bottle even if it was placed near the empty bottle, while the pessimistic cows would avoid it in fear of getting the puff of air.

They found that although the calves all had different responses, each individual calf consistently made the same choice to either try or avoid the new bottle.

The calves varied in their responses, but individual calves remained consistent and made similar choices even three weeks apart. Researchers concluded that pessimism was a consistent individual trait, not just the result of temporary moods or emotions.

VIDEO: Blind cow, adopted calf find escape from slaughter at Surrey farm

“Sometimes we are tempted to see only the herd, even though this herd consists of different individuals who cope differently with stressful events,” said PhD candidate Marina von Keyserlingk.

“It’s important to consider the individual’s perspective, because even if conditions are good on average, some animals may still suffer.”

Pessimistic cows were also more scared overall, the study suggests.

“Calves that were more fearful were also more likely to view the glass as half empty,” said von Keyserlingk.

The team will go on to study how farmers can ensure even the sad cows have happy lives.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

BC BUDGET: Fare freeze and free travel for seniors on BC Ferries

A complete fare freeze will be put into place on major routes, and fares will be rolled back on smaller routes by 15 per cent

Police seek man wanted for assault

Queen Charlotte RCMP are asking for help finding a man wanted for… Continue reading

BC BUDGET: New spaces a step to universal child care

Fees reduced for licensed daycare operators

BC BUDGET: NDP cracks down on speculators, hidden ownership

Foreign buyers’ tax extended to Fraser Valley, Okanagan, Vancouver Island

BC BUDGET: Payroll tax replaces medical premiums

Health spending to increase $1.5 billion for drugs, primary care teams

VIDEO: Top 10 B.C. budget highlights

The NDP is focusing on childcare, affordable housing and speeding up the elimination of MSP premiums

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

BC BUDGET: NDP hope to nix court delays with $15 million cash influx

Union says funding could stop sheriffs from leaving for higher paid jobs

BC Cattlemen’s Association calls for remediation of firebreaks to prevent erosion, spread of invasive species

Other concerns are fencing restoration and repair, and a lack of feed for cattle.

Patrick Brown’s Tory leadership bid fate looms

Brown’s bid to for Tory leadership to be decided on Wednesday

Alberta shrugs off B.C. legal challenge on wine ban

The potential fine Alberta faces for violating free trade rules according to economic development minister

Yelling vulgar slur at reporter not a crime says judge

Judge rules ‘vulgar’ slur against reporter was not a public disturbance

B.C. runner takes silver at Pan American cross-country championships

Tyler Dozzi’s medal pushes U20 Team Canada to gold finish

Hydaburg makes it three in a row

Hydaburg came back from 10 points down in the second half to beat Aiyansh

Most Read