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

Louise Baxter found after 72 hour search

Cranbrook hiker had been missing since Sunday, August 12, near Jumbo Pass.

UPDATE: Search for missing Cranbrook woman enters third day

The search for a Cranbrook woman missing in the Jumbo Pass area is entering its third day.

B.C. declares state of emergency as more than 560 wildfires rage

This is only the fourth state of emergency ever issued during a fire season

Search for missing Cranbrook woman ongoing

Louise Baxter missing in Jumbo Pass area since Sunday

B.C. wildfires 2018: Hazy skies impacting crews in spotting new fires

18,000 people are on an evacuation alert, with 3,000 homes under an evacuation order

Wartime Wednesdays

Invermere’s Elinor Florence investigates stories from our wartime past

B.C. program to educate parents reduces ‘shaken baby syndrome’ by 35%

Period of PURPLE Crying was launched nearly a decade ago

Red Cross now accepting donations for those impacted by B.C. wildfires

The Canadian Red Cross is asking for help now and in the weeks and months ahead.

B.C. golfer, just 23, scores the rare albatross

Six-million-to-one shot a first for the Terrace club

Fredericton widow swears at Trudeau during condolence call

Widow of man killed in Fredericton shooting says she swore at Trudeau during condolence call.

Tim Hortons promises leaky lids on coffee cups to be phased out

Tim Hortons looks to rebuild its brand with better lid, new marketing campaign

‘There’s been a lot of devastation:’ man whose family lost homes in B.C. fire

The provincial government declared a state of emergency Wednesday as more than 550 wildfires burn in every corner of B.C.

Capsized tug now out of the water at the mouth of B.C.’s Fraser River

The 19-metre-long George H. Ledcor capsized late Monday.

Most Read