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A comparison of space requirements of horned and hornless goats at the feed barrier and in the lying area

By C. Loretz, B. Wechsler, R. Hauser, P. Rusch

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Abstract

Loose housing of horned goats is more common than loose housing of horned cattle, and recommendations concerning the design of housing systems for horned goats are needed. In this study, we compared the behaviour of horned and hornless goats kept in deep litter pens to investigate their space requirements at the feed barrier and in the lying area. Two experiments were carried out with eight groups each of 10 females, four groups with and four groups without horns. In experiment 1, the number of feeding places (width 35 cm) was restricted stepwise from an initial 20 to 15 and 10. In experiment 2, the size of the lying area was stepwise reduced from 2.0 to 1.5 m2 and 1.0 m2 per animal. With each experimental condition, the behaviour of the goats was observed directly for 4 h a day during the feeding periods on 4 days (experiment 1) or by means of video for 24 h a day on 3 days (experiment 2). The average distance between the animals at the feed barrier was significantly lower in groups with horned goats (ANOVA with repeated measurements, P<0.05) and decreased significantly with decreasing number of feeding places available (P<0.002), because low ranking animals had to share a feeding place. The proportion of time the animals spent feeding was also significantly lower in groups with horned goats (P<0.02) and decreased significantly with increasing animal/feeding place ratio (P<0.001). The average distance between lying animals was not significantly influenced neither by the presence of horns nor by the size of the lying area. On the other hand, the proportion of time the goats spent lying decreased significantly with decreasing space allowances (P<0.05), but was not significantly influenced by the presence of horns. It is concluded that the space requirements of horned goats at the feed barrier are higher than those of hornless goats, whereas space requirements in the lying area do not differ between horned and hornless goats.

Date 2004
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 87
Issue 3/4
Pages 275-283
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address Swiss Federal Veterinary Office, Centre for Proper Housing of Ruminants and Pigs, FAT, CH-8356 Tanikon, Switzerland. beat.wechsler@fat.admin.ch
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Tags
  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal housing
  3. Animal husbandry
  4. Animal nutrition
  5. Feeding behavior
  6. Goats
  7. Horns
  8. Mammals
  9. peer-reviewed
  10. pens
  11. space
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  1. peer-reviewed