19 February 2020

Things that make us go …. hmmm


Trigger warning: this story contains two appalling puns.

The phenomenon of mercurial behaviour accompanying the onset of puberty is well documented, but did you know that teenage dairy cows get mooooo-dy too?

In what has to be described as an udderly fascinating study, researchers at the University of British Columbia have investigated the personality traits of Holstein cows from birth to adulthood.

“We found that cattle were consistent in their behavioural responses to novelty during the early rearing periods and during the later periods of development,” the boffins reported in Royal Society Open Science.

However, individual consistency of behaviours and personality traits were generally poor across the major developmental period of puberty, which kicks off  around 12 months old for cows.

It’s suspected the physiological changes occurring during this period of development are to blame.

“Steroid hormones around puberty give rise to reproduction-related behaviours typically involving increased risk-taking, exploratory and agonistic behaviours,” the authors wrote.

But why find this out? Well, calmer cows equals more milk.

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