Teens cows are just as moody as teenagers, study shows | Totally Vegan Buzz
Teens cows are just as moody as teenagers, study shows
Image: Sara Winter / shutterstock

A study has shown that pubescent cows and teenagers go through the same range of emotions in adolescence.

A team of scientists at the University of British Columbia reported that puberty and hormonal changes affect a cow’s personality similar to what humans go through in their adolescent years.

In the study, published in  Royal Society Open Science,  researchers indicated that cows go through “emotional confusion” during their sexually maturing years, as surging hormones make them increasingly moody and unpredictable.

 “Our study identified a period of inconsistency in personality traits over puberty,” said Nina Von Keyserlingk, a professor of animal welfare at the University of British Columbia in Canada in a report by The Guardian.

Teens cows are just as moody as teenagers
Image: Dudarev Mikhail / shutterstock.com


The scientists observed Holstein dairy cattle and assessed their personalities at different stages of their lives namely one month, three months, one year (the age of pubescence), and two-and-a-half years.

While observing them in a test arena, they recorded their interactions with new people and unfamiliar objects to assess two personality traits, one being: level of boldness and the other: eagerness to explore. 

While the cows were relatively stable and balanced as calves and adults, they were surprisingly moody between six to eight months – the age of the onset of puberty, and showed moods similar to the emotional upheaval that teenagers go through in their adolescent years.

“Some calves and cows will immediately approach and investigate the object or human, or explore the new environment, while others will never touch the object or human and stand still for the duration of the test,” said von Keyserlingk.

“This phenomenon is similar to that seen in humans, where teenagers often will express different personalities to that of when they were younger, and may again express different personalities when they grow up.”


With the study, the BC researchers want to help “improve the lives of animals on farms,” by understanding cattle personalities and how  they change during the course of their lives.

The results also bring to light that animals are living sentient beings and experience emotions, pain and suffering.

Lori Marino, a neuroscientist and executive director of the Utah-based Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy and  co-author of  The Psychology of Cows, highlights in her book that cows have distinct personalities, display complex emotions, are discernable of their surroundings and are cognizant of the way they are treated.

Referencing the results, she told The Guardian, “It is a time when humans, too, are quite volatile in their moods and personality traits. This finding again demonstrates how similar we all are, whether we are cows or primates.

“Of course, it makes pubescents less predictable and that can translate into how we interact with them. But in the end it tells us that if cows and humans share so much of their psychology with each other, we need to look at cows as beings who also have feelings about being farmed and having their children taken away from them in the dairy industry.”

Share this article to show the world that cows are similar to humans in experiencing emotions and should not be viewed as food commodities.

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