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.