UBC Study Shows Cows Love To Scratch Themselves as Much As They Like to Eat

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Who doesn’t like to be scratched? University of British Columbia researchers found that cows love to be scratched as much as they like to eat!

The animal welfare program at the university allowed researchers to conduct a study and see what dairy cows enjoy more.

There are six authors of the study, including Marina von Keyserlingk, who explains the difference between cows living in nature and the ones living in barns. Natural conditions allow cows to scratch themselves using trees, but the barn doesn’t have abrasive surfaces.

“You know what it’s like to have an itch in those hard-to-get places.”

The Tests Included A Huge Scratching Brush

This brush looks like we’re in a car wash and not in a barn! The animal gets under the brush, and the device will start to automatically roll and scratch it.

Researches placed this brush in a barn and observed how much time cows spent to get scratched. They found out that cows were getting a good scratch lasting for about seven minutes a day. But how did the scratching affect the cows?

Von Keyserlingk and her colleagues used a test to see if cows wanted to push a barrier to get to the brush or to push another one to get to fresh food. Results showed that the cows like being brushed as much as they like fresh food.

Von Keyserlingk believes that the brush helped the cows reduce their stress:

“For me, what I also think about is if she’s super itchy and she can’t alleviate that itch, it could be that she could be really frustrated.”

A Standard Addition For Cattle

The study which was published on 8 August in the journal Biology Letters concludes that cattle should have access to devices like this one. Keyserlingk said it should be a part of “standard management practice, standard housing systems.”

The researchers also discovered that with no access to these brushes, cattle spend five times more time grooming themselves. They cannot say if the brushes help cows produce more milk, but it definitely makes them more comfortable:

“I think that there’s a growing body of evidence now that having these brushes is good for the cows,” added von Keyserlingk.

Rex Austin

Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere

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