Isolation on the Range: New Study Shows Isolated Cows are Slower Learners
The physical blows of cows used in big business often overshadow the mentally, socially and emotionally rich lives of cows.
A new study explains that isolating a calf from its mother can make the animal a slower learner and unable to adapt to new environments.
Holy Cow! Cows Are Awesome
Here a few cool cow facts that you might not know about cows. PETA’s The Hidden Lives of Cows explains how every cow has a distinct personality. They have friendships — get your tissue ready when you see the reunion of two blind cows, Tricia and Sweety, at a farm sanctuary.
Yet their good memories also mean that they can hold a grudge, and some even have enemies. Cows mourn death and separation; mother-baby separations are particularly difficult. They understand cause-and-effect, and they fancy a good mental challenge. Perhaps it should be “a wolf in cow’s clothing” because cows have similar social structures and dynamics to a wolf pack.
Isolated Cows Are Slower Cows
As reported in Discovery News, on most dairy farms, baby cows are immediately separated from their mothers in order to prevent the calf from getting sick (although, you have to wonder what horrible conditions the mother’s in if her baby runs the risk of getting sicker being with her?). After two months, most calves will be reintegrated in the herd.
Yet, new research suggests that this immediate separation showed that “isolated calves were much slower to learn new things and had a harder time adapting to changes in their environment.”
You would think that a slower cow probably sounds like cow bells to factory farmers’ ears because a slower cow is an even easier to exploit cow. Not exactly.
Slow Cows Slow Down Operations
A slow cow tends to slow down operations on the farm. As iScience Times explains, when a red bin was placed in their pens, scientists observed the reactions of two groups — social cows and isolated cows. While both types of cows were interested in the red object, the novelty factor would eventually fade for more socialized cows. Yet, isolated cows were constantly stimulated by the object. One of the study’s researchers explained, “‘This could make it more difficult for a farm animal to be trained or to do something as simple as walk down a path and not be overwhelmed by a bright light or a new noise.’”
The researchers concluded that keeping cows in smaller groups would be more beneficial than isolation. A group of two or three cows is socially stimulating, and the threat of disease spreading is significantly reduced.
Sadly, farm animals, like cows, seldom get to express their awesomeness. The whole system is designed to strip them of their individuality and their spirit — they are nothing more than their body parts.
Try telling cows that, though; give a cow a chance and it will escape, even if it has to jump in an icy pool to reach freedom.
When a livestock farmer admits that killing animals for their meat is wrong, then we need to listen up. The real reason that cows are getting slower is because around 95 percent of Americans accept that it’s okay to eat and drink them.
Photo Credit: James