Cows ‘relax’ when people talk to them

Kind words are good for cows. Especially if they are spoken directly by people standing next to them instead of via a tape recording. A study that examined the influence of speaking and petting on animals has been published in the scientific journal Frontiers in Psychology.

“We know that handling also affects milk production and animal health,” says Annika Lange of the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna. ‘Farmers may be laughed at when they talk to their cows, but it really has an effect.’

In the study, the researchers showed that cows relaxed when they were petted and heard a soft voice. They stretched their necks in pleasure, closed their eyes, twitched their ears, and their heartbeat was slower.

The relaxation effect was more pronounced when the voice came directly from the person next to them rather than from a speaker on the researcher’s body.

A follow-up study examining the effect of speech without contact is still ongoing.

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