Moos’ Blog

Bio­di­ver­sity Counts!
Obser­va­tions and opin­ions con­cern­ing zoos, evo­lu­tion, nature con­ser­va­tion and the way we treat/​support the ecosys­tems which are sup­posed to serve us.


Dairy cows have indi­vid­ual temperaments

pub­lished 24 July 2012 | mod­i­fied 18 Decem­ber 2016

Every good farmer recog­nises each one of his cows by its indi­vid­ual trait. I always thought this was an iden­ti­fi­ca­tion based on the dif­fer­ent body char­ac­ter­is­tics, which is pretty obvi­ous, com­bined with the cow’s tem­pera­ment. Well, just recently it has been proven that dairy cows have indi­vid­ual tem­pera­ments, indeed. This has been pub­lished on the web­site of the Uni­ver­sity of Gronin­gen in the Nether­lands on 23rd March 2012. Zootech­ni­cian Kees van Reenen car­ried out tests to find out if a cow’s tem­pera­ment influ­ences the response to stress­ful situations.

While the answer was pos­i­tive, it turned out that the animal’s tem­pera­ment may also influ­ence its gen­eral health. There­fore, the researcher con­cluded that tem­pera­ment could be bred as a selec­tive trait to improve the robust­ness and well­be­ing of dairy cows.And if you ever thought that a cow’s moo­ing in stress­ful sit­u­a­tions should be inter­preted as a fear response, you couldn’t have been more wrong. It is a kind of social behav­iour: a sign that they like to be near other cows, accord­ing to Kees van Reenen. Ani­mals that exhibit this behav­iour could ben­e­fit from social con­tact with other ani­mals in stress­ful sit­u­a­tions – when they are being milked, for exam­ple, he says. How this must be inter­preted is not clear to me, because it is still a stress response, then.

Related blogs

Goal: 7000 tigers in the wild

Tiger range countries map

Tiger map” (CC BY 2.5) by Sander­son et al., 2006.


about zoos and their mis­sion regard­ing breed­ing endan­gered species, nature con­ser­va­tion, bio­di­ver­sity and edu­ca­tion, which of course relates to the evo­lu­tion of species.
Fol­low me on: