February 12, 2020


Study finds dairy cattle go through disruptive puberty


Study at the University of British Columbia, Canada found that Holstein dairy cattle experience a period of inconsistency in personality traits over puberty, reported The Guardian.


The research was led by Nina Von Keyserlingk, professor of animal welfare, University of British Columbia, which found that cattle can become shy or hold during puberty or be more and less curious in people or objects.


Previous studies have found that cattle's personalities are stable when their young and when they become adults. However, findings on cattle puberty was a mystery.


For the study, Von Keyserlingk and Heather Neave (her former student) placed cattle in a test arena and watched their behaviour to evaluate the cattle for two personality traits. These include how they behaved around objects, strangers and when left alone. Tests were performed on calves aged one month, three months, one year and two and a half years.


The results of the study published in the Royal Society Open Science found that cattle between calf and adult ages have unpredictable behaviour.


Understanding the personalities of cattle and how different they react in age can help scientists improve cattle's health and farming methods. There are previous studies that indicate cattle produce less milk and have weak immune systems when they eat less grass and grow slower due to stress.


Neave said cattle management practices might be customised to fit individual cattle rather than the entire herd, for all cattle to reach its full productive potential.


-      The Guardian