I am a German scientist and I read the term cajoling in a scientific paper. It is meant to be a sign for oestrus in dairy cattle, but I am not able to find a suitable translation or explanation. So what is the cow doing if she is cajoling?

The sentence I read was:

Cajoling, although seen more often in dioestrus than during oestrus, had a high frequency during oestrus. It is therefore still relevant.

Van Eerdenburg FJCM, Loeffler HS, van Vliet JH (1996): Detection of oestrus in dairy cows: a new approach to an old problem. The Veterinary Quarterly 18, 52 – 54

  • You're certainly correct that this verb is used in that context, surprising though this should be. – tchrist Oct 22 '16 at 13:26
  • M-W's simple definition of cajole adds to the humorousness: 'cajole : to persuade someone to do something or to give you something by making promises or saying nice things' Seriously, the term should be defined in the article/s. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 22 '16 at 14:13
  • just added the right link to the paper I read – user202270 Oct 22 '16 at 14:18
  • @EdwinAshworth Presumably the moo-moo call of a cow passes as the bovine equivalent of 'saying nice things', what? – Peter Point Oct 22 '16 at 14:18
  • @Peter Point I'm afraid my copy of Dolittle and Potter has been eaten by the pigs. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 22 '16 at 15:08

Well, this is a nice detective puzzle.

First clue: the article referenced in OP tells us that:

cajoling is difficult to distinguish from other types of behavior that are unrelated to oestrus (e.g., sniffing for fresh air in the air inlets)

Next step: Google search for veterinary cajole sniff.

On page 5 of the results, we find another article where the same table we saw in the original article is reproduced - with one difference: the word cajoling is now followed by an explanatory term in parentheses:

enter image description here

So now we know that cajoling is flehmen - and flehmen has not only a dictionary entry:

flehmen - a mammalian behavior (as of horses or cats) in which the animal inhales with the mouth open and upper lip curled to facilitate exposure of the vomeronasal organ to a scent or pheromone

which agrees nicely with our first clue, but also a Wikipedia article that teaches us that:

The flehmen response (/ˈfleɪmən/; German: [ˈfleːmən]), also called the flehmen position, flehmen reaction, flehming, or flehmening, is a behavior in which an animal curls back its upper lip exposing its front teeth, inhales with the nostrils usually closed and then often holds this position for several seconds.

enter image description here


El flehmen es difícil de distinguir de otros tipos de conductas que no están relacionados al estro, como la inhalación de aire fresco del medio por lo que puede ser considerado de menor importancia para determinar si una vaca está en celo o no (Van Eerdenburg y col 1996). http://jairoserrano.com/2016/02/comportamiento-y-reproduccion-eficiente/

  • The Story of V: A Natural History of Female Sexuality By Catherine Blackledge says that the word flehmen derives from a German word for coaxing or cajoling. – TomMcW Oct 23 '16 at 1:36
  • This answer is correct. I'd been wondering for a long time what my cats were doing. A search on Google Scholar reveals the term 'cajoling' is commonplace (that is, may need no further definition for scholars in the field) as a synonym of 'flehmen'. The parenthetical instance of 'flehmen' you cite, however, doesn't necessarily indicate it's a synonym; it might stipulate a subtype of 'cajoling', that is, 'cajoling, subtype flehmen'. Other instances ("cajoling/flehmen") make it clear 'flehmen' is a synonym. – JEL Oct 23 '16 at 7:30

If the cow is in a state of estrus then "cajoling" here is likely to mean that she is doing what all cows do when they want to attract the attention of a bull and arouse his sexual interest leading to coitus, etc. I don't have any further and better details on this aspect except to refer the OP to the lyrics of Cole Porter's delightful song, Let's do it. Let's fall in love. (1928)

cajoling: (verb) To persuade someone to do something or to give you something by making promises or saying nice things. (Merriam-Webster)

I would suggest that the cow and bull are likely to interact in a bovine form of cajoling leading to consensual coitus.

  • From the reference I gave above, this seems to be part of a standard metric used in this domain. Pretty amusing. – tchrist Oct 22 '16 at 13:28
  • I dont think it is some behavoiur leading to coitus. In the sentence I read it was mentioned that this behaviour occurs even more often when the cow isnt in a state of sexual receptivity (so called dioestrus) – user202270 Oct 22 '16 at 13:31
  • @user202270 With respect, we have a definition that informs us that coitus is very much in the scheme of things as between a receptive bull and a cow in oestrus (I am assuming that oestrus & estrus are two sides of the same coin). T.J. Dijkhuizen & F.J.C.M. Eerdenburg inform us in their Introduction in The Veterinary Quaterly, Vol 19, No.4, November, 1997, at page 194 that: "Oestrus is the period before ovulation in which a cow can be successfully mated. Cows show specific behavior during this period, which is assumed to be in order to attract a bull. – Peter Point Oct 22 '16 at 13:59
  • 1
    @PeterPoint I think you misread the comment. The text says that the cajoling happens during (o)estrus (‘heat’; the spelling is incidental), but it happens even more during di-(o)estrus, which is the period after estrus, when the cow is not matable. You wouldn't expect a cow who is not in heat and doesn't want to be mounted to cajole bulls. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Oct 22 '16 at 14:20
  • 1
    @JanusBahsJacquet Yes, I would! I am thus persuaded by the OP's reading of a sentence in The Veterinary Quarterly of 1996 (18, 52-54) and cited in the OP's edited text that 'cajoling' does occur, most likely with a high probability of coitus if my knowledge of the birds & bees is anything to go by! Let's just remind ourselves of this informative sentence: "Cajoling, although seen more often in dioestrus than during oestrus, had a HIGH FREQUENCY DURING OESTRUS (my emphasis). It is therefore still relevant". – Peter Point Oct 22 '16 at 14:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.