Post link 30 December 2014, 21:02

Cows and their calves communicate using individualised calls equivalent to human names

Cows have distinctive voices and communicate with each other using calls that are individualised in a similar way to human names, scientists have discovered.

In the first experiment of its kind, researchers from the University of Nottingham and Queen Mary University spent almost two years digitally recording the noises the animals made and analysing them with computer software.

Just like human voices, they discovered that cows have their own distinctive sounds and have two separate calls to their calves depending on how close they are. The team found that cows produce low frequency calls when their calves are nearby and higher frequency calls when they are separated from them.

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"The research shows for the first time that mother-offspring cattle 'calls' are individualised - each calf and cow have a characteristic and exclusive call of their own," Lead scientist Dr Monica Padilla de la Torre told the BBC.

"Acoustic analysis also reveals that certain information is conveyed within the calf calls - age, but not gender," she added.

Scientists believe their analysis will improve animal welfare by giving humans a greater understanding of the "language" used by cows.

Farmer James Bourne said the research supported what many farm workers already knew. "A calf certainly knows its mother from other cows, and when a calf blarts the mother knows it's her calf," he said.

In 2006, a separate study revealed that cows also have regional accents. "I spend a lot of time with my ones and they definitely moo with a Somerset drawl," one Glastonbury farmer told the BBC. ·

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