- May 24, 2005
- Reaction score
- The Dam End of Silicon Valley
Gary B. Sherman, MS, DVM, PhD
National Program Leader, Veterinary Science
Plant and Animal Systems
Cooperative State Research, Education, and
Extension Service (CSREES), USDA
E-mail: [email protected]
From: Rudenko, Larisa [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Tuesday, March 01, 2005 11:10 AM
To: Sherman, Gary
Subject: moody cows
Scientists peer into the secret life of moody cows
February 27, 2005
The Ottawa Citizen
Source: The Times, London
Scientists have, according to this story, found that cows have a secret mental life in which they bear grudges, nurture friendships and become excited over intellectual challenges.
The story says that cows are also capable of feeling strong emotions such as pain, fear and even anxiety -- they worry about the future. But if farmers provide the right conditions, they can also feel great happiness.
The findings have emerged from studies of farm animals that have found similar traits in pigs, goats, chickens and other livestock. They suggest that such animals may be so emotionally similar to humans that welfare laws need to be rethought.
Christine Nicol, professor of animal welfare at Bristol University, was cited as saying even chickens may have to be treated as individuals with needs and problems, adding, "Remarkable cognitive abilities and cultural innovations have been revealed. Our challenge is to teach others that every animal we intend to eat or use is a complex individual, and to adjust our farming culture accordingly."
The story notes that Ms. Nicol will be presenting her findings to a scientific conference to be held in London next month by Compassion in World Farming, the animal welfare lobby group.
John Webster, professor of animal husbandry at Bristol, who has just published a book on the topic, Animal Welfare: Limping Towards Eden, was quoted as saying, "People have assumed that intelligence is linked to the ability to suffer and that because animals have smaller brains they suffer less than humans. That is a pathetic piece of logic."
Mr. Webster and his colleagues have documented how cows within a herd form smaller friendship groups of between two and four animals with whom they spend most of their time, often grooming and licking each other. They will also dislike other cows and can bear grudges for months or years.
Dairy cow herds can also be intensely sexual. Mr. Webster describes how the cows become excited when one of the herd comes into heat and start trying to mount her. "Cows look calm, but really they are gay nymphomaniacs," he said.
Larisa Rudenko, PhD DABT
Senior Advisor for Biotechnology
Room E439 MPN2
7500 Standish Place
Rockville, MD 20855