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Important role of dominance in allogrooming behaviour in beef cattle

By Radka Šárová, Anke Kristina Gutmann, Marek Špinka, Ilona Stěhulová, Christoph Winckler

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Abstract

In domestic cattle, the relationship between dominance and allogrooming behaviour has been investigated in several studies. However, the results do not show a consistent pattern. The aim of this study was to investigate this relationship in a stable female beef cattle herd using social network analysis as a novel methodological approach. We tested two adaptive allogrooming hypotheses. The ‘Grooming-for-Commodity’ hypothesis posits that allogrooming is directed from low ranking animals towards higher ranking cows in exchange of tolerance and other favours. The ‘Grooming-for-Stability’ hypothesis predicts that allogrooming is performed by high ranking animals down the hierarchy in order to perpetuate the stability of the social structure. We recorded a herd of 15 Gasconne cows on pasture for 3 weeks (180h) and recorded 681 agonistic interactions and 288 allogrooming events. To evaluate the relationship between dominance and allogrooming behaviour we calculated correlations between dominance index, individual behavioural effort (OUT-direction), and individual attractiveness (IN-direction). We found that more dominant animals provided much higher amount of allogrooming acts (p

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 181
Pages 41-48
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2016.05.017
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Tags
  1. Cattle
  2. Dominance
  3. Grooming
  4. Hierarchy
  5. reciprocity
  6. Social Networks