Synchronized Cows

A European Union Council rule mandates "that cattle housed in groups should be given sufficient space so that they can all lie down simultaneously". Researchers at Oxford University and Clarkson University in New York state were curious to determine whether this was necessary. Do cows ever all lie down at the same time?
Their key insight, the team says, was to realise "it is biologically plausible to view [cattle] as oscillators … During the first stage (standing/feeding), they stand up to graze but they strongly prefer to lie down and 'ruminate' or chew the cud for the second stage (lying/ruminating). They thus oscillate between two stages."

The researchers "modelled the eating, lying and standing dynamics of a cow using a piecewise linear dynamical system … We chose a form of coupling based on cows having an increased desire to eat if they notice another cow eating and an increased desire to lie down if they notice another cow lying down." This, they say, led to at least one unexpected discovery: "[We] showed that it is possible for cows to synchronise less when the coupling is increased."

I'm not sure what implications this has for livestock producers, but this is not the first study of its kind, as you'll see in an article at The Guardian. Link -via Improbable Research, where you can find the worst version of Deck The Halls ever recorded.

(Image credit: Graham Turner/The Guardian)

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It doesn't matter whether all the cows want to lie down at the same time. It's a matter of giving them sufficient space to move around and a typically stEUpid way of defining it. They could have simply stated a number of square metres per beast.

However you define it. Imagine 100 humans being corralled in a space big enough for them all to lie down. They wouldn't like it.
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Try reading the article - the British Council is an organisation that promotes Britain through art, education ...

The EU council throws out random directives - EU means European Union
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