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Calves have conversations with their mothers: cows are intelligent, conscious animals


Animal intelligence
(NaturalNews) We often disregard animals for what they are: sentient creatures. Sentience refers to conscious awareness and feelings. Because animals don't talk or understand speech like humans do, they are often considered "dumb" animals lacking consciousness or feelings. Too many humans consider animals flesh and blood automatons. Therefore, it's not uncommon for them to be treated very poorly.

Factory farms with confined animal feeding operations (CAFO) are good examples of the excess cruelty from human hands that animals endure over their lifetime. If you've ever come upon any Internet requests for donations from the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) or controversial PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) you know from some of the photos how horrendous this cruelty is.

Then there are those puppy mills and fur industries who literally scalp small animals' and baby seals' bodies completely, often after they've been bludgeoned to death, sometimes even before they're completely dead. The Eastern spiritual principle about being kind to all sentient beings is not only ignored, it's spit on and ridiculed.

Gandhi once said, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."

Farm animal observations prove animals communicate, are intelligent

For 10 months, researchers from the The University of Nottingham and Queen Mary University of London studied two herds of free-range cattle on a farm in Radcliffe-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire, in an effort to determine how cows and calves communicate with each other. Recordings were made using highly-sensitive audio equipment, gathering so much data that it took another year to analyze.

Dr. Monica Padilla de la Torre led the research, explaining, "The research shows for the first time that mother-offspring cattle 'calls' are individualized -- each calf and cow have a characteristic and exclusive call of their own. Acoustic analysis also reveals that certain information is conveyed within the calf calls -- age, but not gender."

Maternal calls within visual range tended to be in lower frequency ranges, while calls to calves not in sight had a higher frequency and were louder. Calves calling out to their mothers had three types of calls that were individualized, enabling mother cows to identify which calf was calling.

Dr. Alan McElligott, a senior lecturer of animal behavior at Queen Mary University of London said, "This is the first time that complex cattle calls of [sic] have been analysed using the latest and best techniques. Our results provide an excellent foundation for investigating vocal indicators of cattle welfare."

He added, "By investigating vocalisations in behavioural contexts outside of mother-offspring communication, further research could reveal vocal indicators of welfare -- and influence change in animal care policies."

Beyond cows: Goats also exhibit intelligence, display strong personality traits

Dr. McElligott also asserted that another animal -- goats -- are underrepresented in animal welfare studies, even as their numbers are increasing on farms to provide milk, dairy products and meat. They tend to dislike rain and cold weather, so they were studied during the summer.

Unlike sheep, goats tend to be more independent and crafty with a willingness to escape confinement. Therefore, farmers build stronger fences to keep them from running off. They're also very curious about everything in their immediate environment, including each other.

Dr. McElligott ran experiments to help establish chronic positive or negative attitudes among the goats. Along with his team of researchers, he hopes to educate goat farmers on how to create positive emotions in goats rather than just keeping them from getting mad.

They observed that goats in a positive state pointed their ears forward while also maintaining a stable vocal pitch in their calls instead of one that fluctuates.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.qmul.ac.uk

http://www.northcountrypublicradio.org

http://articles.latimes.com
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