Cattle are considered contemplative and very social amongst farm animals, and have strong emotions. They have a fantastic memory and can remember things over a long period. It is important to know various aspects of cattle behavior and their emotional life, as you would want your cattle to have the least stress.
Research has shown that cows are intelligent and they are able to develop friendships and hold grudges against other cows and humans. They are able to feel the pain of separation from the cows they love, and the bond between a cow and its calf is quite strong.
A Happy Cow
The cognitive abilities in a cow are highly developed, and it is able to understand cause and effect in many instances. For example, a cow will quickly learn that pressing a button will release grain in their feeding trays, and they are known to use their heads to press such a button whenever they are hungry. They are not only able to figure out such mechanical issues but are also known to become happy when they have figured out a solution.
Suitable Leadership Qualities
Social relationships are important to a cow, and every cow is known to recognize more than 100 cows in its herd. Surprisingly there is a pecking order amongst cows as well, and it can be seen by the way they arrive in more or less the same formation to the milking station or feeding lots. In a herd, cows are known to select a leader based on experience, self-confidence, intelligence, social skills, and inquisitiveness, rather than strength, size, and bullying mentality.
According to research, cows become increasingly stressed when their hierarchy structure goes awry in crowded sheds or feedlots. The research showed that many cows started fighting for dominance when the group exceeded 200 members. This is particularly a point of concern when you consider most commercial feedlots have more than 1,000 cows.
Farms that have taken into consideration the social sensitivity of cows, and kept them in smaller herds, have experienced better behavior, less stress, and much better milk yield. Many studies have shown that cows become stressed when they keep encountering cows they do not know, and when they are held in unfamiliar surroundings. Cows also become affected by the increased stress levels of other cows they know, and are known to eat less. When a cow is separated from its herd, it becomes restless, and there is marked increase in its cortisol levels, which is a stress hormone.
Cows may seem quite passive and peaceful creatures, but they are also very emotional and moody. They can become quite tiresome and even mischievous on occasions. Cows can purposefully do things to annoy humans, as swinging their tails in their faces when they are being milked or kicking the bucket with milk. Cows are also highly curious animals but also afraid at the same time. Any new sight or thing will attract their attention but only a few brave ones will come forward to investigate. After a few minutes of investigating the new item, many cows tend to become bored.