Are cows intelligent?
No, cows are one of the dumbest animals. Holsteins in particular have a “suicide gene”.
My experience with cows is from years of working with them on farms, some are good, after repeated action they can learn, after 20+ years of letting our breeder cows out in the same spot at the same time of year they have started to group near that gate when the time to move them comes. When they all get out of a hole in the fence, then we go to round them up they all mostly choose to go back to their home, only wanting to have a little field trip.
But I have seen the stupid about 90% of the time, Mothers abandoning their calves; others claiming and fighting over calves that are not theirs. Getting heads stuck in gates and panels, after getting released they get their head stuck again. Eating Manure while in a pasture of green grass. Having children in pools of water and letting them drown or abandoning them. Cows drowning in 2 feet of water. Breaking through fences because they are terrified of cats. Harming themselves or us because they don’t want to go out a forty foot wide gate out to the pasture. Kicking their kids when the kid is trying to get milk. Laying in manure instead of a nicely bedded shed, during rain storms. Attacking when we are trying to help them, their calves or feed them. Trampling each other during snow storms instead of going into a covered shed. Cows will try to lick you if you get near them for any length of time.
But that is nothing compared to Holstein cattle. I’ve seen holsteins eating manure, next to a feed bunk full of food. Seen them run full speed into a building, not while being chased or excited but on a Tuesday. I’ve seen holsteins drink the urine of another holstein that was drinking water. I’ve seen one tear its skin off its body after impaling itself on a gate, after breaking the gate, then going and frolocking through a manure pile so there was nothing we could do to save it. I’ve seen a Holstein impaled on its own horn, while scratching its back. And I’ve seen a great many slip and fall during the hot, dry summer days.
My favorite story is when I was removing the old metal auger feeding system with a torch. Metal smoking, glowing red hot, and a fire burning on the wood connections. A holstein came up and started licking the red hot metal, searing its tongue, causing unimaginable pain, I assume, and running away….
For a little while anyway. It came back and tried to do it again. Bringing “friends” with him this time. The cows tried to lick the burning wood and metal till we had to stop and erect a fence to stop them. So they licked the fence.
No, cows are not intelligent. I think they have their moments where they can be worked with, but they are not like horses, dogs, or even pigs which can learn commands.
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