A recent study conducted at the University of Sydney is credited with discovering that cows have distinctive moos. Lead researcher and Ph.D. student Alexandra Green spent hours using headphones and a large microphone to record the moos of a small herd of dairy cows at the University’s Camden campus. Her findings show that cows vary the pitch and tone of their moos depending on whether their emotional state and activity. Green’s paper also declared that she discovered that cows have individual characteristics and assert their individuality throughout their lifespans.
Every rancher in America right now is baffled that someone spent time and money to study this. I grew up on my family’s cattle ranch and have lived on or near cattle ranches my entire adult life. In the production agriculture community, we don’t need researchers wasting time and money to discover what we were taught from infancy. Ranchers spend hours feeding, watering, calving, gathering, moving, and doctoring their cattle, so a relationship develops between human and bovine. A rancher can tell by a cow’s call whether she distressed, happy, irate, or in the mood to spend some quality time with a bull. We don’t need to make a detailed, digitized data entry to track this and analyze the trends on a graph. A life built around caring for cattle is sufficient.
It’s insulting to the entire production agriculture industry when urban researchers conduct studies like this and hail their findings as landmark, breakthrough, or any other synonym of “new.” The results of this study have been broadcast as an exciting discovery through mainstream media outlets including HuffPost, FOXNews, and even People magazine. Even worse is the admonition to ranchers and farmers to implement these findings into their daily practices.
“Individual distinctiveness is likely to attract social support from conspecifics [members of the same species], and knowledge of these individuality cues could assist farmers in detecting individual cattle for welfare or production purposes,” reads the study’s abstract.
The researchers are a little late to the party; ranchers have been listening to cattle calls and using them to gauge their animals’ well-being and making appropriate adjustments to their care since the dawn of agriculture.
This isn’t the first study of its kind. A similar study with the same findings was published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science in 2014. Commentary on that study was published on PsychologyToday.com with the title “Do Cows Moo ‘Get me the Hell out of Here’ on Factory Farms?”
“I hope this research will be used to learn just what cows and other animals are trying to tell us, as they are prepared, none too gently or humanely, for human meals,” wrote the article’s author, Marc Bekoff.
These studies illustrate the ever-widening disconnect between urban and rural citizens. Bekoff’s comments promote the liberal agenda of imposing more regulations on those who produce animals for human consumption and by-product usage, with the ultimate goal of shutting down livestock farms altogether. Those who live in cities and have to mechanically record, chart, and study cows’ mooing to interpret its nuanced meanings are disseminating information to the voting masses that will be used to determine future policies and guidelines for farmers, who already knew what the cow said by the way she held her head when she said it.
Editor’s note: I grew up on a dairy farm in Kentucky, I can confirm that any farmer knows these obvious things, and the researchers had only to ask. But that is not the way of academics. And since the other academics will likely also have no practical experience in their field, it becomes even more likely that “research” like this is touted as groundbreaking. I wonder how much money was wasted on this?