Moo News

It’s no secret that here at the farm, cows are our favorite critters. And I think it’s a no-brainer to those of us who have spent time with our bovine friends that cows regularly talk to each other. With worldwide cattle populations at around 1.3 billion, these ordinary “conversations” are beginning to get noticed, and this has compelled researchers to take a good look at what it means when cows moo.


According to the Huffington Post, Scientists at Queen Mary University in London, England, have been listening to the dialogue between cows and their calves. Teams spent 10 months recording call sounds from two herds of free-range cattle and then another few months analyzing them. The results of the study, recently published in The Journal of Applied Animal Behavior Science, showed that cows give two types of contact calls to their calves. The first is a quiet, low-frequency call when a calf is safely nearby, whereas the second is a louder, high-frequency call, mostly indicating stress that the calf is too far away. And the recordings have proven that cattle calls between a mother and her offspring are individualized … that is, each cow and calf have characteristic, exclusive calls.

And despite rumors I’ve heard to the contrary, it appears that cows in different parts of the world do not, in fact, moo with a different accent, although what an absolutely lovely thought!

Leave a comment 6 Comments

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    This is very interesting research on cows. I have always heard that cows made great mothers to their young and this recent research gives support to their complexity we never clued into. However, I bet farmers who had a few cows that they were around all the time and actually had a relationship with, must have noticed these calls. Do you think it is possible that when people just had a few cows in their care, they had a more in-depth relationship with them and respected them more? With the modern dairy industry, there are sometimes hundreds and even thousands of cows in one operation. With calves removed from their mothers and raised separately, the whole cow personality is washed away and these details of how they raise their young are removed. Just so very sad!

  2. Yes, they not moo in a different dialect but they do respond to different languages spoken to them. Here in Amishland in Lancaster County PA, the Amish and Mennonites speak in PA German dialect amongst themselves and to their livestock. Those cows don’t know English . The horses especially are only fluent in “Dutch” and if I want to give some sugar lumps or a carrot to a horse with carriage parked at a store, I am careful to speak in German dialect , English totally spooks them !
    Same with the local farm that is one of the only ones I know of that lets the calves nurse their mothers. I stop by the road and watch them quite often. And they also spook at English I have learned.

  3. Karlyne says:

    You know that I’m sitting here moo-ing in different accents, don’t you?

  4. CJ Armstrong says:

    Very interesting! Well, I know, for a fact, that Scottish Highland cows moo with a Scottish brogue!
    Yup . . . I’ve heard them, myself on my trips there! 😀

  5. Chrissy says:

    My Dad had a way with cows and he was always taking us through the wooded fields during calving season. I have a LOT of pictures of calves and cows. I knew when they were older to look for a “baby sitter”, or “sentry” who was standing guard while most all were grazing. I wish I’d been with them long enough to see who hung out with who. As it was, my family thought I was nuts when I started talking about their personalities.

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