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Cows Have Three Lines of Conversation

16 December 2014

GLOBAL – Bovines communicate with each other using three individualised calls, acoustic analysis has found.

Two maternal calls are used for when calves are in close proximity and further away and a third call is used by calves when wanting to suckle, say researchers at Queen Mary and Nottingham universities

Low frequency calls for nearby calves and high frequency calls for far away calves were identified in the two herds in Nottinghamshire.

This proves cattle communication theories, say researchers after a year of data analysis.

“The research shows for the first time that mother-offspring cattle ‘calls’ are individualised— each calf and cow have a characteristic and exclusive call of their own," said Dr Monica Padilla de la Torre, University of Nottingham.

“Acoustic analysis also reveals that certain information is conveyed within the calf calls — age, but not gender.”

The findings could influence animal welfare, according to Dr Alan McElligott, who said: "By investigating vocalisations in behavioural contexts outside of mother-offspring communication, further research could reveal vocal indicators of welfare.”

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