Do cows prefer spending time with women than men? This study says yes


'Cow cuddling' is proving to be an increasingly popular therapeutic activity for people suffering from stress or anxiety. — Photo: ProfessionalStudioImages/Getty Images, via ETX DailyUp

It may sound surprising, but "cow cuddling" is proving to be an increasingly popular therapeutic activity for people suffering from stress or anxiety. But these four-legged mammals may not interact in the same way with men as with women, according to a study published in the journal Human-Animal Interactions.

The authors of this study, Katherine Compitus and Sonya Bierbower, conducted an experiment with 11 people – five women, five men and one young girl – aged between 13 and 79. They were each asked to interact with two castrated male Holstein bulls for at least 45 minutes. The animals, both around a year old, were raised on a small sanctuary farm in Goshen, New York.

For the purposes of this experiment, the academics gave each volunteer a brush and a bag of treats to facilitate their interactions with the animals. After spending time with the cattle, they asked each volunteer to fill out a questionnaire. In it, they were asked to detail their experience in the company of these animals.

In general, the volunteers wrote that they felt the cattle often initiated non-threatening interactions with them. The animals would approach them to smell them, lick them or accept food from them. Women, however, reported more situations in which the bulls licked them, accepted food from them or reacted to their attempts to train them.

Men, too, had similar experiences, but they reported that the animals sometimes behaved aggressively towards them. That said, the women were more likely to kiss the bulls and spent more time playing with them. "Did the men interact with the cows? Absolutely they did, and they reported enjoying it. It’s just that, for some reason, the women seem to enjoy it more – and the cows enjoyed it more too," Katherine Compitus told New Scientist.

The scientists now need to conduct further research to determine whether the cattle perceived personality differences between the participants based on their sex. In any case, the researchers are convinced of the therapeutic virtues of cattle. And they're not alone: in the north of England, Dumble Farm offers cow cuddling sessions that are a proving great success, as they are booked up months in advance on the farm's website. — ETX DailyUp

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