Farm Animal Intelligence: How Smart Are Your Cows?
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Sheep and goat intelligence: In addition to being barnyard acrobats, goats seem to have some understanding of geometry. Give a goat a doghouse and a 6-foot-high fence, and you can watch it calculate the angles and trajectories necessary to attain freedom. Any critter with four hooves that can climb trees has my respect.
If someone says you’re as smart as a sheep, you probably shouldn’t take it as a compliment. I have spent some time around sheep, and I can’t say I’ve ever seen one demonstrate much intelligence. Sheep will blindly stampede with the rest of the flock at the slightest provocation ... say, for instance, when a leaf blows across the pen. Exactly how much of this is attributable to their strong flocking instinct and a reluctance to act independently is debatable, but the darned things can take off for no apparent reason. Trust me.
How smart are birds?
We’ve all heard of parrots that were taught to understand and use dozens of human words, and crows that use twigs to fish tasty insects out of holes. But when it comes to domestic fowl, the term birdbrained comes to mind. There is, however, an exception to every rule, and that exception was a chicken named Ginger.
Actually, there was a whole flock of chickens named Ginger, trained to play tic-tac-toe by an Arkansas animal trainer named Bunky Boger. A few years ago, when casino folks in Atlantic City and Las Vegas caught wind of the avian wonders, they created “The Chicken Challenge – Play Tic-Tac-Toe With a Live Chicken.” Beat the chicken, and you could win $10,000.
Every day, hundreds of people would line up to match wits with Ginger. And most of the time, the chicken either won or battled its human opponent to a draw.
And that leaves me wondering just who should be calling whom birdbrained?
Jerry Schleicher lives in Parkville, Missouri, and just so happens to know a thing or two about birds and barnyard animals.
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