Researchers have observed that what they do on barren cows in incentives depleted environment when do not eat, do not go and sleep, reported in PeerJ. In addition, the researchers assessed the percentage of inactive individuals in a herd depending on conditions and the amount of time the animal spends in that state. They found that the less time the cows spend on pasture, the more they stay idle, which is too bad, as it is a sign of boredom and a condition like depression. “Doing nothing” in cows is usually shown as lying with his head and laid back ears or as standing with raised head and forward-facing ears.
Territory, which usually keep animals in zoos, vivariums in laboratories or on farms, poor incentives and is not very large, so their inhabitants can get bored, fall into stress or a condition like depression (about depression as such types only usually do not say). This may manifest itself in the residual activity for others (pigs bite each other’s tails) or for yourself (parrot plucks his feathers), in repeated behavioral acts (IRBIS going around in circles in a cage in the zoo). Them in connection with stress and boredom in the animals studied quite often.
Pay less attention to the cases when individuals are too high a proportion of time inactive, although it is also a sign of “psychological” problems. Moreover, people don’t know what it looks like “doing nothing” even for such widespread and long-neighboring ones of animals like cows.
To fill this ecological gap, researchers from the Vienna University of natural resources and applied Sciences and Newcastle University, led by Christoph Winkler (Christoph Winckler) created autogramme — detailed description of the behaviour of cows during the period of inactivity. The scientists noted the position of the body (standing, lying) and its parts (ears, eyes, head, tail) for cows of the breed Fleckvieh that had soderzhalys: were completely in the stall contents, sometimes out in the pasture or almost all the time spent on it.
Agriculture, which contained cows, were located in Austria. From April to August 2018, the researchers visited three farms of each of three types and all came twice in one day, in the morning, another in the evening. In all cases scientists were taking video as heifers on pasture, if it was, and in the premises. The result of each visit were 16 rollers with a duration of 15 minutes. The actions that the cows have made during this time, the positions that they took, and the duration of each behavioral act was analyzed using an upgraded version of the algorithm SPADE, created to identify frequently repeated sequences of events.
All the video were 288 cows for 96 on each content. The inactive period is considered the time when the cow is not eating, not walking or sleeping. It turned out that most often in such moments the animals lying with its head tucked itself under the front legs, open eyes and ears opened ago. In this position, depending on the conditions of detention were caught from 57.9 to 66.7 per cent of inactive individuals. Another popular option of “doing nothing” — standing with raised (not lowered to the ground) head, open eyes and forward-facing ears.
The proportion of animals that are inactive every time, dependent on the conditions of detention. It was lowest when cows are for the most part were on pasture, and averaged 20.4 percent. If stabling-pasture content of this value reached 35.5%, while exclusively stall — 50.9 percent. The proportion of time that animals spent in the inactive state, obeyed the same laws and was the most significant in the case of a permanent location in the stall. There she stood at 85.5 per cent, with stabling-pasture content of 75 percent and pasture — 55.8%. During the do-nothing cow about two times more time lying than standing.
Because no one in detail described how cows spend their time in periods of inactivity, the analysis of their activities was rather descriptive: it is not something to compare. But given that the data collected on farms with various animals, ethogramme has some versatility, and it certainly can be used in different conditions. Of course, “doing nothing” is not always caused by discomfort: the individual can relax after a meal or just relax. However, such a significant share of inactive time, as was observed in heifers stall may signal that they are bored or that they have fallen into a state similar to depression. Such cases can be identified using ethogram and take action to improve the condition of cows.
The creation of humane conditions for the animals, development of standards of care and their implementation not only can extend the life of cattle, but also reduce the amount of feed needed based on the individual, and produced by farm waste. One of the first on the need to provide cows a somewhat comfortable life talking temple Grandin in the 1980-ies. She suggested a number of devices, relieving the stress in animals. The most famous of them — the hug machine (“a hugging machine”), it is used and people. For soothing cows can use a large brush-scratcher. In 2018, it has been shownthat the motivation to scratch their cows have not weaker than the desire to eat.