Cows Go Through Teenage Angst, Too

Researchers say animals' personalities differ, sort of like ours
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 15, 2020 1:00 PM CST
Adolescent Cows Have Mood Swings, Too
Chad Bassinger gives treats to his cows on his regenerative farm last week in Pretty Prairie, Kansas.   (Alice Mannette/The Hutchinson News via AP)

If you think it's tough to understand the mood swings of a teenager, try an adolescent cow's. Researchers who studied the personality development of cows over four years found they go through changes similar to those of a young person, the Globe and Mail reports. A team at the University of British Columbia found the animals' personalities to be stable when they're young and when they're adults. But in between, when they're 6 to 8 months old, there are changes during puberty. Adolescent cows can become moody. "It's important to identify the animals who are struggling to cope. They are not all the same but have differences in personality types," the lead author of the study said. "Individuals should matter." The study was published this week in the Royal Society Open Journal.

The debates over mass farming techniques have increased interest in understanding the emotional state of animals, per the Smithsonian Magazine. The study found cows reacted differently to a new environment or new human in their presence, for example, based on whether their personality was assertive or shy. "It would be nice to tweak management practices based on personality traits and identifying who those animals are," the lead author said. (Read more cows stories.)

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