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A note on the effect of isolation during testing and length of previous confinement on locomotor behaviour during open-field test in dairy calves

By M. B. Jensen

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Abstract

This study investigated firstly if confined calves perform more locomotor behaviour when open-field tested in pairs than when tested individually, and secondly if length of confinement affects the build-up of motivation to perform locomotor behaviour. In the first experiment, 14 calves were open-field tested on two successive days either individually or as a pair. Calves walked more and performed more locomotor play when tested in pairs, suggesting that it may be appropriate to avoid isolation when aiming to measure the effects of confinement on locomotor behaviour. In the second experiment, in each of three successive weeks, 24 calves had access to an exercise arena for 45 min daily on three successive days either: (i) the first 3 days, (ii) the third, fourth and fifth day, or (iii) the fourth, fifth and sixth day. On the seventh day the calves were released into the arena for 10 min (open-field test). All calves received all three treatments in a Latin square design. Calves performed more locomotor play, and they trotted more after 3 days without access to the arena than after 1 or 0 days, suggesting that in calves the motivation to perform locomotor play and trotting increases with length of confinement.

Date 2001
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 70
Issue 4
Pages 309-315
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/S0168-1591(00)00162-3
Language English
Author Address Department of Animal Health and Welfare, Research Centre Foulum, Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Tjele, Denmark.
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Tags
  1. Animal behavior
  2. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  3. Calves
  4. Cattle
  5. Housing
  6. Isolation
  7. Mammals
  8. peer-reviewed
  9. physical activity
  10. Ruminants
  11. Social behavior
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  1. peer-reviewed