"Studies indicate that cows express their internal subjective states with multiple behavioral and physiological changes."
Before we explore these questions, let's define sentience itself.
Sentience means having the capacity to have feelings. This requires both a level of awareness and cognitive ability.1
In Lori Marino's and Kristin Allen's Animal Behavior and Cognition article, the Psychology of Cows, they observe that having reviewed the scientific literature on cow behavior, it points to complex cognitive, emotional and social characteristics in cows.2
Image credit: World Animal Protection
What are the implications of sentience in cows?
If we accept these scientific findings, how can we change our attitudes and behaviour towards these fascinating animals? To see them as sentient beings worthy of respect instead of commodities to be exploited.
One of the effects of factory farming on animals is to turn them into cogs in an industrial machine. Decisions are made based on profit margins, not on what's in the animals' best interests. As a result, cows raised in factory farms experience distressful and unnatural conditions from their birth to their slaughter.2
Commercial dairy cows need to give birth to one calf annually in order to produce milk for 10 months of the year.3
And for their calves, this usually means being taken away from their mother within hours of birth. This causes severe distress to both the cow and the calf, and it has long-term effects on the calf’s physical and social development.3
What can we do to help these factory farmed animals?
In our recently launched 'Say YES to LESS' campaign, we invite people to reduce their meat and dairy product consumption over a range of self-selected time periods.
Follow this link to find out more about it and how you can help to reduce the pressure on factory farmed animals.