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Development of test for determining olfactory investigation of complex odours in cattle

By Maria Vilain Rørvang, Margit Bak Jensen, Birte Lindstrøm Nielsen

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Abstract

The sense of smell is likely to influence the behaviour of domestic and captive animals in a wide range of management and housing situations. In domestic cattle, there may be unexploited potential for using odours and olfaction in the management; however, published studies on bovine olfactory capacity are scarce. By applying an olfactory Habituation/Dishabituation test developed for rodents, this study aimed to assess olfactory ability in cattle. Twenty-three cows (n=10) and heifers (n=13) were tested with three different odours (orange juice, liquid coffee and tap water as an odourless control) presented in a test bucket. The test was conducted on individual animals in their home pen and consisted of each odour being presented twice in a row for 2min each with an inter-trial pause of 2min. Following another 2-min pause without odour the animal was presented with a new odour, with order of odour presentation balanced among animals. Duration of sniffing (muzzle in proximity or contact with) the test bucket as well as the occurrence of licking or biting the test bucket were recorded by direct observation. All animals sniffed an odour (i.e. the test bucket) less when presented for the second time (habituation; all 1st vs. 2nd presentations: P

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 196
Pages 84-90
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2017.07.008
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Tags
  1. Cattle
  2. odors
  3. olfaction
  4. tests