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August 19, 2014

But Then You Totally *Knew* This, Didn't You?

Cows. Their social lives are complicated:


The calves have the strongest social contacts while feeding on hay rather than on grain. This is probably because cattle spend longer feeding on hay to re-ruminate having eaten grain.

During feeding time the cattle compete with each other for food at the grain bunk and therefore cannot always eat with an intentionally chosen partner. So the contacts around the grain bank may not necessarily reflect social ties (!).

However, after feeding on grain there is less competition and the cattle can go with a chosen partner to the hay. "It is only the contacts around the hay bunk during feeding time that may attribute to the real social ties," the researchers conclude.

That should have significant implications for the way animal behavioral specialists study social networks of other animals, particularly in the wild…..What's more, the key finding is that it is important to distinguish between random contacts and social ones—although this can only be done with the aid of detailed knowledge of the animal habitat and behavior.


It's like a jungle out there
Sometime I wondah
how I keep from goin' under

And don't even get me started on horses. It's gettin' real on the mean meadows of western Maryland.

Posted by Cassandra at August 19, 2014 07:24 AM

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It crossed my mind as I read this post – sometimes reading VilCo is like reading Anna Karenina. You’re up to your withers in passion, lust, adultery and BAM! Forty pages of scything hay.

I take it we have much to learn from the bullocks and heifers.

Posted by: George Pal at August 19, 2014 11:26 AM

"How do you play with a horse?"

Ideally, everything you do with a horse is play. If you can teach the horse to enjoy the game, you'll have a fun time together doing whatever you're doing -- cutting, roping, or just riding together up a trail.

Of course, as with children, it's necessary to establish that you are the authority in determining the rules of the game.

Posted by: Grim at August 19, 2014 11:32 AM

We have some funny critters living around our place. On the road in, there is a herd of cows who live on a very hilly pasture.

I think they are some sort of Feral Alpine Cows - and they are always running when I drive by. You do not often see a cow running anywhere, and I really do not understand how they do it on a 45 degree hillside, but there you have it.

I swear to God that I am not making this up.

The other day I drove by and they were clustered under a group of trees right next to the road and let-me-tell-you it was a veritable Peyton Place. I think there was some sort of orgy going on, but I had to avert my eyes, lest I run into the ditch.

Very perplexing.

The horses are no better, really. There is this one vain horse who likes to stand by the fence next to the highway in her purple plaid horse blanket with a sort of coy, "come hither, you big stallion, you" look on her face. All the other female horses gather in the corner and gossip about her:

"Can you BELIEVE that? There she goes again!"

"OMG - this is *so* embarrassing..."

*rolling eyes*

Posted by: Cassandra at August 19, 2014 12:01 PM

You ain't seen nuthin', darlin'. Those are *domesticated* animals. Try watching real wildlife sometime. Now that's scary.
As in lions and tigers and bears.
Oh My!

Posted by: DL Sly at August 19, 2014 12:12 PM

OK, I'll admit it, my best mountain horse used to be afraid of cattle. "I hung my head and cried..."

Late at night, when no one can see, sometimes we play Roll the Fool. I swear that horse loves nudging me with his snout as I'm laying in the arena.

Posted by: Allen at August 19, 2014 02:14 PM

I once had a Beagle who was terrified of garbage bags, so I feel your pain :p

Posted by: Cassandra at August 19, 2014 03:37 PM

Funny, Allen, I have a dog that loves to do that, too! Only he doesn't wait until night, he'll lift that head and trip me every single time I try to step over or around him.

My SIL had a dog that was afraid of post-it note paper. Even the little 1x2" ones. Just rattle one at her and she'd head for her kennel.

Posted by: DL Sly at August 19, 2014 06:10 PM

As Cass says ai yi yi yi yi. It's a long, long story but my wife got a wolf pup for me 4 years ago, and that guy fears everything in the civilized world.

He does hunt, and then rolls in it, and if it stinks wants to share. Hi Dad smell this.

Surprisingly when the vet does the ranch call he gets his shots without a single qualm. In fact she says to him, "you're a sweet boy." Tongue lolling yep, yep, yep. Shameless.

Posted by: Allen at August 20, 2014 02:35 AM

I once saw a cat chase a horse around a field.
Cured me of wildlife.

Posted by: spd rdr at August 20, 2014 08:47 AM

Oh good grief!! They studied MILK cows??

Lets get them out to WY to my folks or about 8 other ranches. Let them study those herds. See what they come up with during calving season, when bringing the herd down from the summer mountain pastures, during branding, or when the bulls are put in with the cows…. And we can sit back and watch the fun!!

Had a great Border Collie. All in one move she'd nip the cow's heel and flatten herself on the ground. Just in time too… sharp hoof would go whistling over her head. She was a great herding dog. Until a cow would get pissed off, turn around, and charge her LOL

Posted by: Nina at August 20, 2014 10:24 AM

However, after feeding on grain there is less competition and the cattle can go with a chosen partner to the hay.

Sounds like the difference between getting lunch in a New York deli and getting lunch at The Four Seasons. :+)

Posted by: Elise at August 20, 2014 02:03 PM