If you rub up against a cow’s nose and feel cold, the cow is probably experiencing some change in its emotional state.
That’s according to a study done by researchers at World Animal Protection—a non‑profit organization tasked with protecting the welfare of animals around the world.
Other studies have shown that the temperature of animals’ skin, nose, ears, and other outer body parts has a strong connection to negative emotions in animals. For example, stress and fear are known to cause lower temperatures. But what about positive emotions, such as contentment?
The researchers studied 13 cows to find out if their nasal temperature could also indicate positive emotions. The cows’ nasal temperature was measured before, during, and after the scientists stroked the animals in a way that simulates grooming, which is known to relax cows and put them in a positive emotional state.
And sure enough, the researchers found that when the cows were relaxed, their nasal temperature dropped—which can be somewhat confusing, given that a cold nose can also mean that cows are agitated.
In any case, the finding could help dairy farmers and cattle ranchers by giving them a mechanism to quickly and easily track the emotional states and stress levels of their animals, and take steps to relieve stressed animals.
Now, the study was small, and only involved cows at a single farm. So more research is necessary to confirm and build on the findings. But it provides an interesting glimpse into how some animals express emotions.
“Study Shows the Temperature Of a Cow’s Nose Can Reveal Their Inner Emotions” (Phys.org)