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

WATCH: Fire crews extinguish single vehicle fire

Firefighters quickly douse flames under hood of pick up Saturday

Bortolussi a household name at complex

Cheers echo throughout the rafters of the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex.

What does home look like to you?

Columnist David Zirnhelt drops us a line from Mexico

Mount Polley to begin dredging Springer Pit

Water and tailings being stored in the Springer Pit since the 2014 breach will now be returned to the tailings storage facility.

Update: Snowfall warning ends for Williams Lake Friday, Feb 23

Several centimetres of snow is expected by the afternoon

Evacuated cat finds his way home seven months after B.C. wildfires

‘He just decided he was going on a holiday — an extended holiday’

The way government learn someone has died is getting a digital overhaul

Governments in Canada turned to private consultants 2 years ago to offer blueprint

Bobsleigh team misses Olympic medal finish

Canadian team finishes four-man event 0.84 seconds behind first place, 0.31 seconds from podium

B.C. Games: Athletes talk Team Canada at PyeongChang 2018

From Andi Naudie to Evan McEachran there’s an Olympian for every athlete to look up to

Snowboarders sliding into fresh territory at B.C. Games

Athletes hit the slopes for first appearance as an event at the B.C. Winter Games in Kamloops

Cariboo woman raises funds for Seizure Investigation Unit beds at VGH

VGH Foundation gets VCH approval to begin fundraising for SIU beds; local efforts are paying off

Looking back at the 1979 B.C. Games: Good memories, even better jackets

39 years later, Kamloops is hosting the Winter Games again, with some volunteers returning

OLYMPICS 101: Oldest and youngest Canadians to reach the podium

This year, Canada sent its most athletes in Winter Games history, here’s a look at record breakers

BCHL Today: Cowichan Caps play spoiler and Nanaimo wins 10th straight game

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Most Read