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Cows Are Happier When They Are Around Their Best Friends

We all know that dogs are man's best friend, but they're not the only four-legged mammals to get a BFF. As it turns out, cows like companionship too. Research done by Krista McLennan of Northampton University indicates that cows like to keep a close friend nearby. By measuring the heart rate of cows when paired up with another cow unknown to them, McLennan was able to see that cows prefer to watch what company they keep.

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For 30 minute intervals, the animals were paired up with either a cow they knew well or a cow they didn't know at all. When the cows were with another they had a history with, their heart rates were significantly lower and they appeared calmer and happier overall. On the flip side, if the cows were strangers, their heart rates were higher and they were visibly more agitated.

The findings are of great interest, especially when it comes to the well-being of the animals. While many don't think of cows beyond producing milk or prime-beef, this shows that they may be more intelligent than we realize, with the strong desire to make important and lasting social connections - just like us. McLennan's study isn't the first to look into the bonds of cows.

Back in 2014, researchers from the University of British Columbia discovered that young calves that lived alone generally performed worse on a task under certain conditions than those who lived with a calf of similar age. Using a T-shaped maze with a white bottle on one end and a back bottle on the other, scientists were able to gauge performance. At the beginning of the trial, one of the bottles was empty while the other held milk. When the full bottle was switched, calves that grew up with a friend were able to find the new source of milk much quicker than those who lived alone.

It looks like there's a lot more to cows than we first thought. What do you think? Have you noticed any of your animals having a best bud? Let us know in the comments.

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