Alps and cows – the bovine perspective?

Glorious view isn't it?  The Alps on a sunny morning in June.  If you'd been there you would have also appreciated the sweet smell of lady's bedstraw in the very flowery meadows and the gentle tones of the cow bells as their owners munched lazily on those same flowers and grasses.

But look more closely.  Almost all the cows, just like any humans that were around, were gazing at that gorgeous view.  They were looking down into the deep valley below and up the tree covered slopes to the snow capped peaks in the distance.

As I watched I wondered what the cows make of the view. We know that when humans are in contact with a beautiful place in the natural world the brain releases chemicals called endorphins which help reduce blood pressure and heart rate and strengthen the immune system. We feel calm and relaxed. Deliberate remembering of such scenes causes the endorphins to flow and thus alleviates stress and sickness and helps us to cope when we're back in the busy, noisy city. William Bloom writes about it in his book, The Endorphin Effect.

Cows are mammals too, so not very different from us. No doubt their brains can produce endorphins as well. Relaxed cows eating good food will be healthy cows and produce more high quality milk so it's a good survival strategy. These particular cows were on their way up to the high summer pastures after spending the winter cooped up in their indoor accommodation in the village. Do they remember the summer days of sunshine and freedom during the dark days of winter? Do they feel joyful when they are back out in the meadows? I suspect they do.