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Effect of mares’ dominance rank on suckling behaviour in the loose housed domestic horses

By Martina Komárková, Jitka Bartošová, Jana Dubcová

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Abstract

Suckling is a main part of maternal investment in equids. The suckling period is crucial for adequate physical as well as psychical development of the foal. The rank of the mother and her aggressiveness could be factors responsible for later reproductive or social success of the foal. We hypothesised that under conditions characterized by balanced diet adjusted to the needs of lactating mares, but limited space, that the dominance relationships and agonistic interactions among mares are responsible for differences in suckling behaviour which cannot be explained by the foal's age. The studied animals were eight groups of loose-housed lactating mares with foals of Kladruby horse. In total, 79 foals (32 males, 47 females) were born to 59 individual mares within two seasons. Not frequency, but suckling bout duration was correlated to the dominance rank of the mare (P

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 133
Issue 1
Pages 54-59
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2011.05.006
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Tags
  1. Agonistic behavior
  2. Domestic animals
  3. Dominance
  4. Housing
  5. suckling