October 22, 2020

Cows, like humans, prefer face-to-face communication: “It’s more relaxing.”


A group of cows staring at the camera.

A group of cows staring at the camera.
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The cows are more relaxed when a human speak directly than when they listen to the recording of the human voice, according to a study by the Vienna University of Veterinary Medicine (Austria), which publishes this Thursday ‘Frontiers in Psychology’.

“Cattle like to be stroked while being gently spoken to”, said the researcher Annika Lange, who indicated that for a scientific experiment on the use of a human voice speaking gently to relax the animals, it is preferable to use a recording, because of how difficult it is to repeat “the same phrases in the same way during all experiments “.

Using a recording means that the conditions are as similar as possible in each of the tests in accordance with the concept of “standardization”, which plays an important role in scientific experiments.

But the research team led by Lange wanted to determine whether cows respond differently to the sound of the recorded human voice or when a human speaks to them directly.

“Our study indicates that live speech is more relaxing for our animals than a human voice recording, “said the researcher, adding that” interactions may be less positive when they are made artificial by standardization. ”

The team worked with 28 cattle and compared the benefits of stroking the animals while listening to the voice recording of one of the scientists, with those of stroking the animal while speaking directly to it.

When they looked at the cows’ responses during the experiments, the scientists found that speaking directly to them was the most it improved the spirits of the cattle.

The range of heart rate variation was found to be higher when the animals were spoken to directly, which is an indication that they were enjoying the situation. After this treatment, lheart rates were lower than after hearing a recorded voice, which indicates that the animals were more relaxed at the end of the live chat.

“When they are relaxed and enjoying the interaction, animals often stretch their necks like they do when grooming each other “Lange explained. “In addition, it is believed that the position of the ears can indicate their state of mind: the lowered ears and the low positions of the ear appear associated with the relaxation.”

For this experiment the scientists used only one group of cows and one recording. Lange pointed out that there will be more experiments to see if the results are valid for other groups of animals in different situations, such as cows that are more suspicious of humans.

The article notes that these studies could lead to improved human-livestock relationships, which is an important aspect of animal welfare.

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