There’s more behind those big brown eyes than you may think …
and paying attention could reap significant fiscal rewards
MONTREAL, Quebec - Oct. 1, 2015 - PRLog -- Ongoing research suggests that animals, including livestock, have far more complex cognitive and social capacity than we probably credit them for. But why should we care? Because dairy cows form friendships, and when they are denied contact with their familiar friends and are isolated or placed with strangers, they react anxiously – enough to compromise their yield of milk.
Reduction of stress is very important for the welfare of the entire animal kingdom. UK researcher Dr. Krista McLennan measured (at 15-second intervals over the course of 30 minutes) the heart rates and cortisol levels of cows penned on their own, with their closest companion or with another cow they did not know. When tabulated, the results indicated that those herded with a familiar cow had significantly reduced heart rates.
If farmers were to pen dairy cows with others with whom they have bonded, the likelihood is that it would go a long way in providing real benefits for the animals – improved quality of life, greater life expectancy, etc. – and for the farmers who would be helping to optimize their cows’ production of milk.
A lot of factors influence cow lactation, but ensuring cow comfort is critical. It stands to reason that providing readily accessible sources of clean water, unlimited access to nutritious feed, and keeping silage fresh using the most effective silo bunkers are all very important. A word about that last variable: Silage bunker design matters. Truck-tire sidewalls for silo bunkers have shown their superiority over regular car tires as they are safer for the farmer, obviate the risk of contamination from rusting metal, reduce labor costs and more.
Cows interact in complex ways and they form collaborative relationships. Unfortunately, modern farming practices mean cows are often separated for visits from the vet or by farmers moving their stock from place to place. Regrouping is problematic because it induces high levels of anxiety as the cows try to integrate into a new group. If farmers would begin to recognize the importance of acknowledging and respecting the bonds the animals form and take measures to keep preferred partners together, the ultimate winner just might be the dairy industry.
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New study shows that cows may actually have friends
October 01, 2015 at 12:11 PM EDT