Cows Want to Be Outside As Much As They Want Food

Cows Want to Be Outside As Much As They Want Food

Author: Douglas Main | Published on: April 6, 2017

How ardently do cows desire going out to pasture? Quite a lot, it seems. A new study shows that the animals are as motivated to get their feet into clover as they are to eat.

As detailed in a paper in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers came up with a scheme to measure how driven cows were to either access food, or go out to pasture. The team, led by Marina von Keyserlingk and Daniel Weary at the University of British Columbia, steadily increased the amount of force it took for a cow to open a door, which led to either food or pasture.

The scientists found that the majority of the 22 cows they studied pushed equally hard to get to food or to access the outdoor areas. They noted that the cows at the British Columbia research farm, were much more interested in going outside at night, compared to the day. Once outside, many of them laid on the ground to sleep. (Von Keyserlingk says it may be uncomfortably hot during the day—the study was conducted in the summer—and that the cows prefer to stay inside where it is cooler in the daytime.)