by | Mar 1, 2019 | Farm Updates

Do Cows Have Emotions?

Happy March!

Earlier this week I met Dr. Temple Grandin, a low-stress and humane livestock handling expert that is known around the world for making animals lives better. You may already know who she is! Temple has suffered from autism since her childhood, and because of this, has a unique perspective on animal behavior due to her ability to “think in pictures” and understand the sensory world of animals.

She had lots of great insights I thought you’d enjoy like this one:

Do cows have emotions? 

According to Temple Grandin, they do! While animals don’t have the ability to reason, they do have built-in responses that are much like human emotions. In one of her slides, she described a few core emotions as:

  • FEAR — The reaction to danger that helps them survive in the wild. 
  • RAGE — Like a bull that is threatened or dominating.
  • PANIC — What cows do when they’re lost or separated by themselves.
  • SEEKING — Curiosity that leads a cow to seek out new things and test them.
  • ADDITIONAL EMOTIONS — Lust, caring, play

Each cow may have varying degrees of “emotional expression” and by understanding these things livestock handlers can create a better life for their animals. 

For example, Tulip, one of the milk cows here at Bartlett Farms has a very mild and gentle temperament. You might say she has a “need” for more petting than other cows, just because she is wired that way. The funny thing is her calf named Rosie (that we also milk), picked up on her mother’s traits and became very docile as well!

Yes, we name our dairy cows

Temple Grandin’s talk reminded me how it’s our duty as stewards of God’s creation to respect animals as they go to work creating food for us. One of the ways we do that at Bartlett Farms is by giving each of our dairy cows a name. It helps remind us they are valued and an important part of the family! 

The 10 Jerseys we currently milk are named: Esther, Lucy, Maple, Dora, Heidi, Ruby, Betsy, Rosie, Krystal, and Tulip.

Do you know your cow?

When you sign up for a share in Bartlett Farms cow-share program, you are given an ID that goes with your share of the cow. This makes it possible for you to know which cow is yours and maybe even get your picture taken with her when you visit the farm!

Owners also receive a refrigerator magnet with a picture of their cow. The magnet can be put on your fridge as a constant reminder of where your milk comes from!  If you haven’t received yours, let us know and we’ll be happy to send it to you.

Written by:

Peter Bartlett

Peter Bartlett is a husband, son, brother, and animal lover who manages the cattle and creamery at Bartlett Farms. His passion is to help parents make diet and lifestyle changes that enable their children to succeed in a toxic world.


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