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Play behaviour in group-housed dairy calves, the effect of space allowance

By M. B. Jensen, R. Kyhn

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Abstract

96 Danish Holstein Friesian calves in 6 repetitions were housed in groups of 4, in pens of either 4, 3, 2.2 or 1.5 msuperscript 2 per calf from 2 weeks of age. The occurrence of play behaviour in the home environment was recorded continuously for each individual calf during 24 h at 5, 7 and 9 weeks of age. Locomotor play decreased over the weeks (54, 29 and 19 s for weeks 5, 7 and 9, respectively), and the interaction between space allowance and week tended to be significant. At 5 weeks of age, calves kept at 4 or 3 msuperscript 2 per calf performed more locomotor play in the home environment than calves at 2.2 or 1.5 msuperscript 2 per calf (68, 74, 38 and 39 s for 4, 3, 2.2 and 1.5 msuperscript 2 per calf, respectively), but in weeks 7 and 9, no effects of space allowance were found. In addition, the duration of locomotor play was recorded for all calves during an individual 10-min open-field test in a 9.6 x 4.8 m arena at 4 and 10 weeks of age. During the open-field test at 10 weeks of age, calves from pens with 1.5 msuperscript 2 per calf performed more locomotor play than calves on the remaining treatments (10, 9, 12 and 25 s for 4, 3, 2.2 and 1.5 msuperscript 2 per calf, respectively). It is concluded that an increase in the available space increases the occurrence of locomotor play in the home environment at 5 weeks of age. Calves kept in pens with the smallest space allowance performed more locomotor play behaviour when released in a large arena at 10 weeks of age.

Date 2000
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 67
Issue 1/2
Pages 35-46
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/S0168-1591(99)00113-6
Language English
Author Address Department of Animal Health and Welfare, Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Research Centre Foulum, Tjele, Denmark.
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Tags
  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal housing
  3. Animal rights
  4. Animal welfare
  5. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  6. Calves
  7. Cattle
  8. Dairy animals
  9. Denmark
  10. Developed countries
  11. Europe
  12. Interactions
  13. Mammals
  14. OECD countries
  15. peer-reviewed
  16. pens
  17. play
  18. Ruminants
  19. Scandinavia
  20. young animals
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed