Social habituation in cattle

Senast ändrad: 26 oktober 2023

Is it possible to socially habituate naïve cows to fearful situations? Studies on horses indicate that in smaller groups it is possible to lower fearful reactions by adding just one calm companion. This could be a very useful tool in the dairy industry in various fear-eliciting situations. The project will be divided into two parts: 1) controlled experiment, 2) practical experiments (observations) of potentially fearful situations for cattle such as e.g. Kosläpp, hoof trimming and insemination. A first experiment could consist of having 4 naïve (untrained) cows, to 1 trained (calm/habituated), and then expose the group to a fear-eliciting stimulus. The research question is then: Does the 1 calm companion reduce the fear reaction of the other group members? The project is part of a larger project and can be adapted to include the students own ideas.


Qualifications: Master/kandidat student with a background in animal science, veterinary science or similar fields. Knowledge of ethology is an advantage but not a prerequisite.

Practical information: Experiments will be conducted indoor or outdoor on a private farm (depending on season and farm conditions). Long experimental days with overnight stays either near or on the farm can be expected. Previous experience with large animals is an advantage and a driver’s license is necessary. This project can be conducted alongside another project scheduled for autumn 2021 approx. sep-dec 2021, in the area around Skara, Västra Götalands län.