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Advances in understanding cognition and learning in cattle

Code: 9781801460897
Maria Vilain Rørvang, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden; and Christian Nawroth, Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology, Germany

Chapter synopsis: Understanding the cognitive capacities of cattle is central when designing husbandry environments and developing handling regimes. This chapter outlines the current knowledge on cattle learning and cognition, with special emphasis on their socio-cognitive capacities. Cattle easily learn features and spatial cues and can remember these for a long period of time. They are also highly trainable and can be taught complex tasks. While there is a gap in knowledge of how cattle recognise the physical properties of their environment, there is a good understanding about their social discrimination and recognition skills, all of which are of high relevance for maintaining group cohesion. Applied research should focus on how husbandry environments and daily management routines can be adapted to foster cattle’s cognitive development. By using their cognitive capacities in the conceptualisation of handling regimes, we may further ensure a safer work environment for handlers whilst at the same time safeguard the welfare of the animals.

DOI: 10.19103/AS.2020.0084.02
Table of contents 1 Introduction 2 Learning and memory in cattle 3 Understanding the physical environment 4 Social cognition in the cattle group 5 Human–cow interactions 6 Cognitive research in an applied setting 7 Summary 8 Where to look for further information 9 References

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