Most people probably know the myth that you can simply push over a cow that is sleeping standing up. But how do animals actually rest? Do they sleep standing up or do they lie down like humans? How much sleep do animals need to be fit, and can they dream?
In this article, you will learn interesting facts about the sleeping behavior of cows.
What does the “sleeping day” of cows look like?
As a ruminant, the cow shows a shorter sleep duration than, for example, the carnivore, because it needs a lot of time to regurgitate and digest its plant food. While lying down, the animal ruminates and rests without really falling deeply asleep. Because they cannot ruminate while sleeping, cattle do not have long periods of sleep like humans or other mammals. They only take short naps before continuing to ruminate their food.
How long do cows sleep?
Cattle do not sleep primarily at night and for several hours at a time like we humans do. Rather, cows have what are called “lying-in” phases, during which they doze and ruminate. These phases last about 12 to 14 hours a day. The individual phase is about 1 to 1.5 hours long. Only short periods of deep sleep occur, which should total about 30 minutes per day.
The ruminant bovine has a high energy requirement. Therefore, even if the cow sleeps very little, it is important that she rests at all times to conserve her energy reserves. She should use most of her energy to digest her food and produce milk.
Do cows sleep standing up?
Cows do not sleep on all fours, but lie down to rest and slumber while lying down. Many people probably confuse the cow here with the horse, which can actually stand while sleeping.
Cattle prefer to lie on their sides. To do this, they either pull their legs close to their body or stretch them out. They often pull their head to their belly while napping.
If the animal assumes a comfortable lying position while napping, it encourages ruminating and prevents claw and joint problems. It also improves milk production from. When cattle don’t get enough rest, their performance drops. Dairy farmers are aware of this connection and often equip the sleeping and lying areas of the cattle with an extra layer of litter, so that the animals can always assume a comfortable and changeable lying position. If the stalls have the appropriate dimensions, the cattle manure will fall into the manure alley, keeping the udders clean and making milking hygiene easier to perform.
Is it possible to push cows around while they are sleeping?
“Pushing cows” is a modern myth whose origin cannot be traced. According to it, you can easily knock over animals that are resting or snoozing while standing up and tip them onto their sides if you bump them. Supposedly, the animals might not react quickly enough to keep their balance. However, since cattle don’t slumber on all fours and are also far too heavy, quickly knocking them over while they sleep doesn’t work.
Where do cows prefer to sleep?
For their rest and recovery, cattle prefer to choose sufficiently large, dry and malleable resting places so that they can lie down as comfortably as possible. A comfortable and undisturbed place to sleep is very important for the cow to get enough sleep.
Besides the resting place on the meadow, there are special lying boxes for cattle in stables, each of which you can pad with filling material such as litter or straw. In this way, nothing stands in the way of the cattle’s blissful slumber.
Can cows dream?
According to research results, there are also different sleep phases in mammals like cattle. During the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) phase, which can be recognized by the rapid eye movements, most dreams occur in humans. The body’s total energy expenditure is high, heart rate and respiratory rate increase, but the body muscles are quiet.
Science assumes that animals dream like we humans do, and they process the impressions of the day in their dreams. Thus, in the case of a cow, one might assume that her dreams are no different from situations in everyday life – eating, resting, rumination. Thus, most cows should have calm and pleasant dreams.
Since one cannot ask the animals, the dreams of cows leave room for many kinds of speculations.
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