Study finds cattle udder-ly prefer in-person human voices to recorded ones
PODCAST: Live human interaction a moo-d booster for cows (02:07)
If you’ve been practicing social distancing and have quarantined yourself throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, you might be missing in-person conversation and the touch of another human. Turns out, cows totally understand how you feel.
According to new research, cows are more relaxed by live human voices than recorded ones.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, Austria, and Johannes Kepler University of Linz, Austria, included 28 cattle and compared their responses to being petted while listening to a recording of a human’s voice vs. being petted while a live person spoke to them. The results showed live talking was the “best mood enhancer” for the cows.
“Each animal was tested three times per condition and each trial comprised three phases: pre-stimulus, stimulus (stroking and talking) and post-stimulus,” the researchers said. “In both conditions, similar phrases with positive content were spoken calmly, using long low-pitched vowels. All tests were video recorded and analyzed for behaviors associated with different affective states. Effects on the heifers’ cardiac parameters were assessed using analysis of heart rate variability.”
Results indicate a calming effect on the cattle when they listened to live voices. And perhaps this research indicates that it might do humans some good to have in-person interactions – at a safe distance, of course – to help our moods during difficult times.