‘How do you moo?’ – language of cows cracked by scientists

Admit it, we’ve all wondered what cows are saying to each other when in the parlour or chewing the cud in the field.

Now, some natty boffins have created a computer programme dubbed the “Google Translate for cows” to gain a better understanding of what our bovines are actually saying when they “moo”.

The study, by researchers from the University of Sydney, found that each cow has its own distinct moo and can give indications in various situations to express their excitement, arousal, engagement or distress.

See also: 5 tests to assess your dairy herd’s welfare and comfort

Aussie biologists made the discovery by listening to Holstein-Fresian heifers mooing into a microphone and analysing the pitch.

They reckon moos are deep and more sonorous when cattle are talking about happy things, such as their food; where as when they are complaining about the weather, their noises are lower pitched.

“We found that cattle vocal individuality is relatively stable across different emotionally loaded farming contexts,” says Alexandra Green, the study’s lead author.

The team think their findings could help farmers improve herd welfare by understanding each cow’s mood through translation of their individual moos.

It’s an interesting idea, but we think these researchers might be milking it a bit.

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