Monday, 26 March 2012

Dairy Cows Have Individual Temperaments

ScienceDaily (Mar. 23, 2012) — From a young age, dairy cows react differently from each other to stimuli from their surroundings. An animal's temperament determines how it reacts in stressful situations, but may also influence its general health. In the future, temperament could be bred as a selective trait to improve the robustness and wellbeing of dairy cows. 

This is the conclusion reached by zootechnician Kees van Reenen, who will receive a PhD from the University of Groningen on 30 March 2012.
Van Reenen studied black-and-white Holstein-Friesian cows as they developed from calf to cow. He carried out behavioural tests and physiological examinations in order to determine how the animals react to external stimuli. He focused on the following, among others: fear responses, lowing (vocalization), stamping, pulse and the release of cortisol as the external characteristics of underlying traits -- including timidity, the need for social contact and movement -- that, taken together, determine the temperament.

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