40 red deer stags (2 years old) were confined for 40 min in large (5 m x 4 m) or small (2.5 m x 4 m) pens on 2 days in spring and summer. Wall pacing and vertical/horizontal head movements at the walls were more frequent in small pens than in large pens and were carried out by a greater percentage of the deer. The distances between individuals were smaller in small pens than in large pens. Aggressive activities varied seasonally, with head-butting and chasing occurring most frequently in the spring and biting and kicking being seen most frequently in the summer. The overall frequency of aggressive activities was lower in summer than in spring. In spring, in small pens there were fewer threats to head-butt, fewer head butts by moving animals, and less stepping activity than in large pens. In summer, in small pens there were more threats to butt and more stepping activity than in large pens. In spring and summer, aggressive activities were correlated with wall pacing (r = 0.58 and 0.55, respectively). It was concluded that the effect of pen size on the frequency and nature of aggressive and other activities varied seasonally. To minimize aggression and stepping activity, small pens were favoured in spring and large pens were favoured in summer. However, in both seasons there were greater inter-individual distances and less pacing and head movements at the walls in large pens, this may indicate that the large pens were less aversive to the deer, regardless of season.
|Publication Title||Applied Animal Behaviour Science|
|Author Address||Invermay Agricultural Centre, Private Bag 50034, Mosgiel, New Zealand.|
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