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

RDKB issues evacuation alerts for Lynch Creek area

The alert is in effect for 25 addresses.

Updated: Toronto Creek fire being held north of Grand Forks

The alerts are in effect for 22 addresses.

Child, 4, attacked by cougar near Fernie

The BC Conservation Officer Service said it happened while the family was fishing

Sunday update: dozens of new fires discovered yesterday in West, East Kootenay

Weather front moving through area sparks fires including in Syringa Provincial Park and Valhalla.

Lightning sparks more than 20 new fires in West Kootenay

Fires burning across West Kootenay include Syringa Provincial Park and Valhalla.

Average Canadian family spends 43% of income on taxes: study

Fraser Institute’s consumer report shows taxes accounting for larger chunk of income each year

Plane fighting wildfire crashes near Canada/U.S. border

The plane experienced an unknown problem.

RCMP to search for body after man drowns in B.C.’s Buntzen Lake

Officers and fire crews responded but the man from the Lower Mainland is believed to have drowned.

Police chiefs call for stricter controls on pill presses to fight opioids

Canada’s police chiefs are urging Ottawa to beef up its fight against the opioid scourge by closely vetting people who import pill presses

Hot, dry conditions forces drought rating to highest level on Vancouver Island

The province says Vancouver Island is under Stage 4 drought conditions

Victoria police say explicit calls continue to target women

Over 50 reports of unwanted, sexually explicit calls have come in

‘It’s like a party in your mouth’

B.C. creator’s Milkshake Burger makes its debut at the PNE

Darkwoods Conservation is closed to all public road access due to wildfires

Boat access to Tye along the shore of Kootenay Lake is still permitted.

Most Read