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

Missing Alberta man believed to be travelling to Penticton

RCMP are asking for assistance in locating a missing man

Local talent will be featured at Summerland Fall Fair

There are dozens of categories for choose from in the upcoming fair in September

Summerland Steam seeks billet families, volunteers

Host families are needed for five out-of-town Junior B hockey players

Air quality remains at high risk for Okanagan

The whole Okanagan is forecast to be set at a high risk for the remainder of the day

Okanagan water board seeks mussels funding

Okanagan Basin Water Board sends request to new federal fisheries minister

Happy birthday Boler: An anniversary gathering of the cutest campers in Winnipeg

Hundreds of the unique trailers in Winnipeg to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Manitoba invention

Snowy Mountain wildfire expected to create poor visibility

An update on the active wildfire burning 14 km north of Keremeos

Old Tom Creek wildfire grows to 144 hectares

Difficult terrain and weather challenging crews at Old Tom Creek wildfire

Canada’s tax system unfairly favours wealthy, poll of CRA auditors suggests

Four of every five respondents think loopholes and tax credits built into the system benefit the rich

Banff’s Sunshine ski resort upset with proposed guidelines from Parks Canada

The plan would allow for more visitors but wouldn’t let Sunshine build additional facilities

Conditions improve for battling northwest B.C. wildfires, minister says

‘Self-evacuated’ people fleeing smoke advised to go home

UPDATED: B.C. matching Red Cross donations for victims of wildfires

Donations being taken by many organizations, BC Hydro waiving bills

Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP catch wanted man

Falkland man found in Enderby home wanted on outstanding warrants

Most Read