The Loh Down On Science

Cows are more like humans than you think!

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is a real problem, sure.  —But in cows?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

The word on the range?  Cows that witness a run-in with a wolf experience stress-related symptoms.  So says Reinaldo Cooke from Oregon State University.  

Apparently, a wolf attack can create stressful memories for the entire herd.  That can mean reduced pregnancy rates, low-weight calves, and increased sickness.

To study the phenomenon, Cooke and colleagues ran an experiment.  They put one-hundred cows, half of whom had never seen a wolf, in a pen scented with wolf urine.  While recorded wolf calls played, wolf-like German Shepherds roamed the perimeter. 

As this show played out, the cows with wolf memories had a 30 percent spike in the stress hormone cortisol.  Their body temperature climbed, and they bunched up in a corner or formed a protective circle.

And how about the cows with no previous close encounters of the canine kind?  Well, they showed no signs of stress, and were actually curious about the wolf-like dogs.

Oddly, these reminded the cows of their grandmothers.  My grandma, what big teeth you have!  Right!

***** For more 90-SECOND SCIENCE FACTS, click here.*****

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, in partnership with the University of California, Irvine, and 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


blog comments powered by Disqus