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


Jim Ven
Jim Venabout a year ago

thanks for the article.

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Linda P.
Linda P.2 years ago

The cruelty and torture to these innocent victims needs to stop now. No animal should ever have to endure this. The ones that treat the animals so cruel need to be punished, it is animal cruelty. The companies only care about the profit and could care less about the animals. They need to be inspected and with no notice to see what is being done and the conditions. If you are not doing anything wrong, you don't have to worry.

angela l.
angel l.2 years ago

I wonder why humans have such trouble understanding or accepting that animals have exactly the same emotion, affection, love etc..except that they can't speak human language. Buddha had taught so much sermons over two thousands ago which can be proven by science, physics and psychology. Simple reasons that humans non acceptance of animals' fact so they can continue to eat meat or to abuse them without shame. That is so much self defense and lies rather than facing the fact. Just put ourselves in their shoes and one can actually feel the pain, like calves got taken away from their mothers and humans drink their milk!!! What if babies being taken away from their mothers without milk, mothers feel exactly the same as animal mothers.. Humans actually do a lot of things against universal law and could get away in this lifetime. Some where in our transcendent has to pay back and if only people understand the concept of "cause and effect", I'm sure they will give a second thought before torturing other beings. Whatever we do will reflect upon us and no one can help us but ourselves. If slaughterhouses allow people to visit, there will be more vegetarians, therefore, they are not open to public and even signed the stupid ag-gag bills to cover their ugly evil acts. Humans have a choice as we are suppose to be more intelligent. are we not?!

Edgar Zuim
Edgar Zuim2 years ago

Poor cows. Suffering needlessly.

Marc Horton
marcus Horton2 years ago

thanks for the report

Rhonda B.
Rhonda B.2 years ago

Poor animals.

ANITA B.2 years ago

When will we stop treating animals like they are beneath us, like they have no feelings, no emotions. Where that came from in modern day man, I don't know, because ancient man worshipped animals and the Native American, although he used animals for survival, prayed to their spirit and called them his relative. This world's gone backwards instead of forwards. As we progress in technology we regress in spirit.

Nicole H.
Nicole L.2 years ago


Jenny Bone
Jenny Bone2 years ago

Poor animals we are so evil to them