The Story Behind The Mooing Of Cows

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Cows graze near the wreckage at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), Donetsk region July 26, 2014. Nearly 300 people, 193 of them Dutch citizens, were killed when the Malaysia Airlines plane en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was brought down in eastern Ukraine, where separatists are battling government forces, on July 17. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS DISASTER TRANSPORT CIVIL UNREST) REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

British scientists may have solved the meaning behind the mooing of cows. Two herds of free-range cattle on a farm in Nottinghamshire were studied by the team. They studied the way the cows communicated with their young ones for a span of 10 months by recording as well as analysing the communication of the cows. The recordings of the mooing were made using highly sensitive equipment. 

According to the Daily Mail, the scientists have found that the cows made two distinct calls when they communicate to their young ones, which was based on the distance between them. It was also found that when a calf wants to suckle their mother and when they want milk, they made a specific sound.

Another discovery that the scientists made was that the cows made low maternal sounds when the mother was close to her calf. The mothers made louder and higher pitched calls when the calf was out of visual contact. All the calls that were made were individualised in a manner similar to that of calling human names and that was considered as the important finding by the scientists. 

Dr Monica Padilla de la Torre is the lead scientist from the University of Nottingham. She said that the research showed that the mother-offspring calls were individualised and that each cow and calf had their own characteristic and exclusive call. She explained that the acoustic analysis had showed that certain information was conveyed within the calf calls age but with no regards to gender. 

A farmer named James Bourne told BBC that the research was in line with what he had noticed. He had been around cows since the 1950s. He said that a calf certainly knew its mother from other cows and that when a calf calls, then the mother knows that it was her calf.  He said that if the cows were not distressed and were calm, then they would moo in a fairly low sound. 

The co-author of the study from Queen Mary University of London, Dr Alan McElligott, said that it was the first time that complex cattle calls had been analysed with the use of the latest as well as the best techniques. He said that their results provided an excellent foundation for the purpose of investigating vocal indicators of cattle welfare. 

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