Study: Cows Can Talk To Each Other Using Their 'moos', Say Australian Researchers

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Researchers from Australia studied Holstein-Friesian cows and revealed that the animal can talk to each other and respond to positive or negative emotions.

Written By Vishal Tiwari | Mumbai | Updated On:
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A recent study that was conducted on cows found out that the milk-producing animals can 'talk' to each other using 'moos'. Researchers from Australia studied Holstein-Friesian cows and revealed that cows can talk to each other and respond to positive or negative emotions.

The study was conducted by scientists from the University of Sydney and their programme was dubbed as the 'Google Translate for cows'. Researchers from the University used the pitch of their 'moos' to analyse their emotions. The study shows that cattle's vocal individuality of high-frequency calls is stable across different emotionally loaded farming contexts. 

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New study on cows and vocal individuality

The study that was published in Scientific Reports, found "Cattle produce two broad call types which are modulated by the configuration of the supra-laryngeal vocal tract; including low-frequency nasalised calls for close contact and/or lower distress, and orally emitted high-frequency calls for distant communication and/or times of higher arousal." This is the first study to show that cattle maintain vocal identity cues across a variety of farming situations. 

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This experiment was undertaken in a free-ranging environment at the University of Sydney, Australia, "Wolverton Farm" between June and October 2017. A herd of 18 Holstein-Friesian non-pregnant virgin heifers was recorded for this experiment. Heifers were selected to be uniform in the breed, production status, age and weight to control for their excessive influence on vocal individuality.

To assist with the identification of individual heifers during the recording contexts, heifers were assigned numbers that were spray-painted with fluoro stock-mark on either side of their flank. 

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According to the lead author on the study, Alexander Green, farmers should integrate the knowledge of these cues into their daily farming practices for cattle welfare or production improvements. This knowledge could help farmers in identifying individual cattle requiring welfare intervention.

The study demonstrated a variety of source and nonlinear-related vocal parameters are responsible for encoding individuality in Holstein-Friesian heifer high-frequency calls. 

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