Austrian scientists stroked 28 domestic cows and found that stroking, accompanied by a calm human voice, relaxes the animals well: they lower their ears, pull their necks and close their eyes. This works equally effectively both in face-to-face communication, and if the cow hears a human voice in the recording. At the same time, the pulse of cows towards the end of stroking decreases more if they hear the human voice live, scientists write in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.
Since the overall condition of any living organism depends on the environment, it is very important to build effective communication with an animal that lives next to a person, otherwise the pet will experience severe stress, which will affect its health (dogs, for example, may even develop anxiety). Frequent physical contact, joint games, and even conversations can help: studies show that some Pets can recognize human speech and even react differently to the voice depending on, for example, the intonation.
However, communication with humans and their impact on the condition of Pets is most often studied on the example of dogs and cats, but other animals are rarely touched. Annika Lange from the veterinary University of Vienna and her colleagues decided to study the peculiarities of communication with domestic cows. In particular, they decided to test how animals react to the human voice in recording and live. A total of 28 cows took part in the study.
During the experiment, the researcher went to the cow lying down and began to stroke it; depending on the condition, he also either spoke quietly and calmly to the cow, or was silent — while playing a recording of his voice calming the cow. Each animal was stroked in both conditions, and their behavior (during stroking, as well as before and after) was recorded on video for further analysis. In addition, scientists also measured the pulse of cows.
When analyzing the reaction of cows, scientists paid special attention to the movement of the ears: lowered or motionless ears, for example, indicate that the cow is relaxed, but frequent movement, on the contrary, indicates that the cow may be stressed. Scientists also observed whether the cow stretches its neck when it is stroked by a person (this reaction is characteristic of mutual grooming), whether it puts its head on his lap and closes its eyes — this also indicates relaxation.
In General, cows liked stroking accompanied by a human voice — regardless of whether the experimenter spoke to them personally or whether the animal heard his voice in the recording. At least the behavioral responses were not significantly different: the cows stretched their necks, closed their eyes, and lowered their ears.
At the same time, the pulse of cows did not decrease during stroking: contrary to the assumption of scientists, the pulse of cows in contact with humans increased, but not significantly. The pulse rate decreased after the cow was stroked, and when the person spoke directly to it, the effect was more noticeable (p < 0,005)
The authors came to the conclusion that stroking accompanied by a human voice actually appeals to cows and can relax them, and both direct conversation and its recording will be suitable. At the same time, a personal conversation with a cow, apparently, has a more lasting effect: judging by the reduced pulse, it relaxes better.
And cows like mechanical scratching brushes: they are willing to overcome the same obstacles in order to scratch themselves with them as they are for food.