Olfactory conditioning in cattle?

Senast ändrad: 26 oktober 2023

This project aims to explore possibilities for olfactory conditioning in cattle. This research area is completely new, and has only been studied previously in rodents. Despite the fact that many mammals have a highly developed sense of olfaction, this ability is rarely (if ever) considered in animal production. This may be due to our own inability to detect scents and nuances in scents (humans have, compared to many animals, a less complex and sensitive olfactory system).

In this project, we lead the first attempt to condition cattle to associate an unrelated odour (e.g. peppermint) to a pleasant experience (e.g. being scratched at a preferred spot on the body). The project is novel and under development, which means that the right student can be involved in the design and development of the experimental design.


The main research questions is: Can cattle learn to associate a previously unknown odour with a pleasant experience?

Qualifications: Master/kandidat student with a background in animal science, veterinary science or similar fields. Knowledge of ethology and design of ethological experiments (theory is sufficient) is prerequisites.

Practical information: Experiments will be conducted indoor on a private farm. Long experimental days with overnight stays either near or on the farm can be expected. Previous experience with handling large animals is an advantage and a driver’s license might be necessary. This project can be conducted alongside another project scheduled for spring 2022 approx., in the area around Skara, Västra Götalands län, or in Skåne.