Cows that grow up socialising with their peers have improved cognitive ability and adapt better to new technology, according to a University of British Columbia (UBC) study.
The study, ‘Social Housing Improves Dairy Calves’ Performance in Two Cognitive Tests’, found that pairing animals together, instead of separating them in pens, allows them to interact and learn from one another.
UBC Animal Welfare Program professor Dan Weary, was a contributing author to the study and says a ‘buddy system’ contributes to a cow’s ability to adapt to different farming systems.
Professor Weary says it’s often impractical for dairy farmers to keep calves with their mothers after birth.
But he says creating an alternate social system for the calves is beneficial.
“We can provide social stimulus for a young calf by rearing it with other calves.”
He says the most interesting thing you can give an animal in it’s environment is another animal.
“It’s a constantly changing dynamic.”
The study found that improved cognitive ability, helps cows deal with new on-farm systems, such as robotic milking systems.
“These calves that are reared in pairs seem to be better at adapting to a variation in their environment,” Professor Weary says.
Source: The Rural