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Have you ever looked at a cow as it munched on grass and wondered about the emotions that it could feel?
Humans can often reduce some animals down to the products that can be extracted from them, like beef or dairy products. However, animals like cows are much more than giant food resources.
These animals have life and since we know so much about evolution, there is no reason to think that they do not have the capacity to feel any emotions. Understandably, the emotional capacity that humans have is varied and extensive, and while the emotional range of a cow would probably stand nowhere close to it, we can always try to respect the animal. Keep reading to know if cows feel sad and how they would express such emotions!
Whether cows and calves are capable of actually shedding tears is something that humans have struggled to find an answer to. However, some farmers, and other people whose professions require them to be around these animals, often recount events wherein they saw a cow cry from pain or even shed tears. There is hardly any reason to disbelieve such stories and question their credibility since the average person does not actually spend a lot of time surrounded by calves and cows.
It is believed that the cries of these animals consist of high-pitched moos, which sound much more distressed than their average, low-pitched ones. On one occasion, a cow may even shed a few tears from grief, fear, distress, or any other emotional extremity. A crying cow could be in search of its herd, its calves, or might just be in pain. Some farmers speak of events wherein the members of their farm would cry and shed tears out of physical pain such as in the case of a painful gas or a broken limb. They also cry when their milk hasn't been extracted in some time. This is because cows must be milked at certain time intervals. A failure to do so would make them feel uncomfortable and could even lead to diseases like mastitis in their udders. Any sort of pain or discomfort is therefore communicated in the form of a high-pitched moo, which may or may not be combined with tears!
If someone said that cows only cried at a particular time, it would definitely sound a little absurd. However, it is said that there are some hours of the day or night when these animals may be especially emotional.
In the daytime, cows remain with their family. Since cows are herbivorous, gentle animals, they like to remain in herds. If this were not the case, cows would become easy targets for predators. One of the main factors of herd life, as humans understand it, is being able to feel safe. While munching on grass in the day, all the members of the herd are within close proximity of each other and in clear sight, which gives a sense of security. However, at night, farms are often dark, which leaves the cattle fearing that they might be separated from the herd. Hence, it is more common to hear cows crying at night. This, however, does not mean that these animals are only capable of doing so in the dark.
It is also assumed that cows cry or let out a high-pitched sound when they sense any threat. This is a way of alerting their friends that live on the same farm and making sure that everyone is ready to fight off some danger. Cows can also cry when they have been separated from their friend for a night.
There is a popular theory that cows cry when they experience sadness. While there will always be people who contest any claims that these animals are capable of feeling this emotion, evolutionary theories seem to point in the opposite direction. Until there is solid research that legitimizes either of the speculations, we have no reason to denounce one and take up the other. However, there is nothing wrong with listening to some of the stories that a person who spends a lot of time with cows would have. Some such stories say that cows can feel distress, sadness, fear of being killed, and the urge to save their herd. Farmers also have first-hand experience in dealing with cows as they get distressed about being separated from their calves or cry from the fear of being killed. Some farmers also believe that the cries can mean that the animal is hungry or lonely. Understandably, a species that has evolved to live in large groups would be sad when it has to live alone.
If you love animals, it may not be the best feeling to see tears in cows' eyes. In the process of extracting products for human use like dairy and meat, we sometimes hurt animals and cause them more pain than we can fathom.
The slaughter process often brings tears to the eyes of these animals because of how stressful the environment can be. This is one of the reasons why farmers make the animal feel comfortable during the process. There are many videos on the internet that show cows sometimes guess that they are about to die. Any emotion that these animals would feel on such occasions would be let out in the form of cries and wails. It also becomes important for farmers and slaughterhouse workers to make sure that a cow does not feel distressed at the time of death, since such emotions can alter the taste of the meat and make it less valuable in the market.
Cows also cry in order to call their mates, search for any signs of threat, and to let their caregivers know that they need some food. A high-pitched call could mean that the mother cow cannot find its young one or is feeling grief for being separated from it. Cows also cry when they are about to be milked since the process can be very stressful for them if not carried out in the proper way. Humans sometimes think that a high-pitched moo from a cow can only mean that someone they love is about to die. While this superstition is hardly correct, the animal could just be feeling emotional.
Whether or not cows cry is a question that has led to many heated arguments around the world. While evolution has made humans capable of a very large range of emotions, the same cannot be said for cows.
The truth remains that human beings are yet to come up with any means of understanding the exact feelings of other animals. However, since cows are respected in some parts of the world, the possibility of them being capable of feeling fear, anger, grief, or any such emotions makes people think of whether or not human conduct towards these bovine animals is always appropriate. The people who support and uphold animal rights tend to be of the opinion that cows and other herd animals are just as capable of emotions as humans are. The only difference between these cases would be that humans are unable to understand the language that bovine animals use.
Farmers around the world seem to think that their gentle cattle family is very capable of showing a range of emotions. Understandably, they spend way more time with these herd animals than us, which is one of the reasons why their opinion on the matter may hold more significance. However, we cannot say that the general populace has been completely ignorant of the possibility that cows may be capable of crying or showing other emotions. Over the years, many types of research have been conducted, which show that while the emotional capacity of cows would not be at par with that of human beings, they do feel stress. The research was conducted through the examination of hormone levels and heartbeats in cows in different situations. Since cows are herd animals, they have very strong ties within their groups. If we may say so, they even have friends within their herds. When a cow was put in a pen beside another cow that it did not know, the animal showed greater levels of stress hormones. The animal would also have a greater heartbeat, which shows that it underwent some stress and discomfort. At the same time, when the animal was placed next to another cow with which it was familiar, the cow would be much calmer and show lower heartbeat rates. This shows that cows do have relationships within their herds and feel discomfort when put together with completely strange animals of their species.
At the same time, the internet is filled with stories and videos of how cows have shown their emotions in the past. Some farmers have even reported that they heard cows crying on their farm at night time. At this point, it is also important to understand that since cows' language is not decipherable to us, we may easily misconstrue a simple sound as one that came from pain.
Cows not only have friends but also have very strong feelings towards their calves. It is seen in many cases that mother cows feel sad and distressed when their babies are snatched away from them. These bonds can only be present through evolutionary processes, which cannot be denied credibility. On a farm, it is quite normal for the farmer to send the young calf away just a few hours or maybe days from its birth. The simple reason behind this is that if the calf were to stay, it would drink the milk that the farmer could otherwise extract and sell. Whether such practices are right or wrong is a matter of personal opinion. However, there is an entire school of thought which believes that mother cows deserve to live with their calves and that the farmers should practice 'ethical dairy farming.' This school of thought also attaches certain meaning to the life of the cattle and allows it the right to at least cherish its familial bonds.
At the same time, there are other people in the world who believe that cows are definitely not capable of feeling any complex emotions. Their basic idea is that cows can only feel pain in the literal sense of the word, and any other feelings would be out of their range. What becomes important here is acknowledging the fact that we humans really do not know too much about the emotions that other life forms can feel and their ways of expressing them. While it is hardly possible to imagine a world without dairy products and meat altogether, eating products that have been sourced in the correct way is a conscious choice that we can make. At the same time, looking for alternatives is also a route that can be explored in order to make sure that the life of animals is not disrespected in any way.
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