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Trade-offs between feeding and social companionship in cattle: Intra-animal consistency over short and extended periods

By Masahiko Hirata, Ikuko Taketomi, Yuka Matsumoto, Shotaro Kubo

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Abstract

The conflict between sociability and foraging motivation in animals is considered to be of potential value for use in the management of grassland systems to improve grazing pattern of livestock over grasslands. However, individual differences in behaviors relating to this conflict have not been fully explored. Three experiments with two test repeats 1–3 days apart were conducted using 8–16 Japanese Black cows at intervals of approximately 3 weeks between Experiments 1 and 2 and 1 year between Experiments 2 and 3. Individual cows were tested in a grassed arena (85m×30m in Experiments 1 and 2, 130m×18m in Experiment 3) with an adjoining group pen holding the peers. Plastic washtubs (16 in Experiments 1 and 2, 25 in Experiment 3) containing 150g grain-based concentrate were placed at 5m increments on the centerline of the arena to entice test cows away from the group. Behavior of test cows were recorded for 30min as: maximum (Dmax) and mean (Dmean) distance from the group, number of total (Ntotal) and different (Ndiff) tub visits, and proportion of time eating concentrate (Peatconc) and grazing sward (Pgraze). Cows showed consistency in Dmax, Dmean, Ntotal and Ndiff over the short periods of 1–3 days (repeatability within experiments=0.41–0.80) and approximately 3 weeks (Pearson r between Experiments 1 and 2=0.81–0.91, P

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 146
Issue 1
Pages 19-25
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2013.03.004
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Tags
  1. Feeding
  2. sociability