Cows talk to one another, including about food and weather

The first evidence of cows maintaining individual vocalization.

Cows may not speak like a human, but they have their language to communicate. A new study by the University of Sydney has found that cow talks to each other about food and the weather.

Domesticated cows are highly gregarious, residing in herds in both natural and commercial farming environments. Within these herds, interactions over short and long distances are mediated by vocalizations.

Cows maintain individual voices in a variety of emotional situations. This helps them to maintain contact with the herd and express excitement, arousal, engagement, or distress.

For the study, scientists recorded 333 samples of cow vocalizations and analyzed them using acoustic analysis programs with help from colleagues in France and Italy. The research concludes that farmers should integrate the knowledge of individual cow voices into their daily farming practices.

Ph.D. student Alexandra Green from the School of Life and Environmental Sciences said“We found that cattle vocal individuality is relatively stable across different emotionally loaded farming contexts.”

“By understanding these vocal characteristics, farmers will be able to recognize individual animals in the herd that might require individual attention.”

Associate Professor Cameron Clark said, “Ali’s research is truly inspired. It is like she is building a Google translate for cows.”

Ms. Green said, “It was previously known that cattle mothers and offspring could communicate by maintaining individuality in their lowing. This study confirms that cows maintain this individual voicing through their lives and across a herd.”

“This is the first time we have been able to analyze voice to have conclusive evidence of this trait.”

The paper was published in Scientific Reports.

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