Cows prefer live co-moo-nication with humans: Talking to cattle face-to-face helps them relax and stay happy, study finds
· Cows prefer 'live' chat with a human rather than listening to a pre-recorded voice
· They 'like stroking in combination with gentle talking', experiments have shown
· Cattle most enjoyed stroking and talking in order to get relaxed and comfortable
By Jonathan Chadwick For Mailonline (UK)
15 October 2020
Farmers should converse with a cow face-to-face if they want them to unwind, a new study suggests.
Austrian researchers found cows were more relaxed when spoken to directly by a human, compared with when they were played voice recordings over a loudspeaker.
The experts observed signs of relaxation when cows were spoken to in-person, such as heart rate variability and the positions of their necks.
Feeling stress can stop cows from producing milk and make their meat tough, dry and flavourless, according to farmers.
It's already known voices can reduce stress for cattle, but busy farmers could spend more time with cows in-person, as opposed to playing them pre-recorded audio.
The quality of the animal-human relationship and the welfare of animals can be improved by gentle interactions such as stroking and talking, the team claim.
'Cattle like stroking in combination with gentle talking,' said Annika Lange of the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, Austria.
'In scientific contexts, a recording of a human voice speaking gently could be used to relax the animals, because it can be difficult to repeat the same phrases in the same way during experiments.
'Interactions may be less positive when they become artificial.
'I hope that stockpersons or farmers will more often interact gently and speak some nice words when they are working with cattle in the future.'
Lange stressed to MailOnline that her study did not investigate or find anything connected to meat quality.
'Animal welfare is considered more than just the absence of pain or suffering – good welfare also includes positive experiences for the animals,' she said.
'Our study is looking mainly at the wellbeing of the animals, and we found that the cattle enjoyed the stroking and talking and were relaxed and comfortable.'
Previous studies have found...
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