Dutch cow expert wins Ig Nobel prize for bovine behaviour study

Dutch researcher Bert Tolkamp has been awarded one of this year’s Ig Nobel prizes – for studying the number of times cattle stand and lie down again.

Tolkamp and his team from the Scottish Agricultural College were awarded the Ig Nobel probability prize for making two discoveries: firstly, that the longer a cow has been lying down, the more likely that cow will soon stand up; and secondly, that once a cow stands up, you cannot easily predict how soon that cow will lie down again.

According to the Guardian, Tolkamp told the audience at Thursday night’s award ceremony he and his colleagues are running several research programmes aimed at improving animal health and welfare.


In their award-winning research, they fitted sensors on cows’ legs that recorded how long the animals spent standing up or lying down.

The aim of the awards is to ‘honour achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think’. The ceremony took place at Harvard University.

The organisers say the prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honour the imaginative — and spur people’s interest in science, medicine and technology.


According to the Volkskrant, an Ig Nobel award can lead to greater things. Dutch Russian physicist Andre Geim who won one in 2000 for moving a live frog with magnets, went on to win a real Nobel prize three years later.

And former winner Kees Moeliker, who took the prize for research into homosexual necrophilia among ducks, says he believes the award gave his career as an academic a boost.

Moeliker is now curator of Rotterdam’s natural history museum and famous world wide for his studies of weird animal behaviour, the paper states.

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