Cows Can Feel Pessimistic And This Affects Their Ability To Cope With Stress

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It seems that dairy cows can be optimistic or pessimistic from a very young age. This can predict their ability to cope with stressful situations, according to the latest findings at the University of British Columbia.

High implications for animal welfare

According to Benjamin Lecorps, a Ph.D. student in the animal welfare program, this study has high implications for animal welfare, and it also shows some pretty similar traits between the animal and the human species.

“In humans, we know that personality traits can affect how people cope with stress, cope with challenges or even (affect) their social lives and so on. We wondered if it applied to animals as well,” Lecorps said.

The study was published last month in Scientific Reports, and it tested how calved that were fearful, social, optimistic or pessimistic reacted under stressful conditions. These conditions involved transporting them from one barn to another.

The more pessimistic the calves were, the more vocal they were, and they also had higher eye temperature which are reportedly signs of high stress.

Optimism has been studied as an important predictor of how well humans can cope with stress.

There have been a few studies on the other hand that analyzed pessimism and optimism on other species.

Personality traits have been studied often as an average across a species or herd, but it is also important to look at individuals when considering an animal welfare. As you can see, some calves are more vulnerable to challenges than others.

Closing words

This study could be used in order to determine which animals will be more resilient when they grow and to allow the overall improvement of their health on a dairy farm.

“If we have animals that are more vulnerable to stress, it’s likely that they are going to be more likely to be sick later in life or to not cope at all with the challenging situations they are subjected to in routine dairy farming,” Lecorps said.