Physiological regulation of maternal behavior in heifers: Roles of genital stimulation, intracerebral oxytocin release, and ovarian steroids
ABSTRACT We tested the hypotheses that 1) epidural anesthesia at parturition would block both peripheral and central release of oxytocin and eliminate the development of maternal behavior in primiparous heifers and 2) estradiol priming, genital stimulation, and appropriate neonatal stimuli would induce maternal behavior in nulliparous heifers. In experiment 1, primiparous crossbred heifers (n = 13) with cannulas in the third cerebroventricle (IIIV) were assigned randomly to receive epidural treatments of saline (SAL; n = 6) or lidocaine HCl (EPI; n = 7) at the onset of labor induced between Days 270 and 280 of gestation. Epidural anesthesia blocked (P < 0.001) both central and peripheral release of oxytocin and markedly reduced (P < 0.05) or eliminated licking behaviors during a 3-h period following parturition as compared with SAL. Following approximately 1 wk of controlled daily suckling, during which calves were permitted access only to the inguinal region of their dams (three times daily for 10 min each time), a second maternal behavior test was performed. Although licking behavior remained markedly reduced (P < 0.001) in the EPI compared with the SAL groups, all heifers accepted their calf at the udder. In experiments 2-4, neither estradiol priming in ovariectomized heifers nor estradiol plus progesterone in intact heifers resulted in an induction of maternal behaviors following genital stimulation and presentation of a neonate wetted with amniotic fluid. Pelvic sensory deficits apparently block oxytocin release and disturb both short-latency and long-term maternal behaviors but do not result ultimately in rejection of the calf. Combinations of hormonal, sensory, olfactory, and visual cues observed previously to induce maternal behavior in nulliparous ewes do not appear adequate for induction of maternal behavior in nulliparous heifers.
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ABSTRACT: The objectives of the present study were to evaluate the suitability of potential biomarkers for maternal ability in cattle, and in addition to test the hypothesis that dairy cows have a less pronounced motherliness than beef cows. Therefore, maternal behavior of 20 Simmental beef-type (S) and 20 German Black Pied (dairy-type) Cattle (BP) was assessed on the 2nd and again on the 3rd day of the calf's life. Measurements included the frequency of interactions between cow and calf, the cow's willingness to defend her calf, the overall maternal behavior, saliva cortisol, saliva oxytocin, heart rate, and thermal images of the eye (ET). Mixed model analysis revealed that BP had significantly (P<0.05) higher oxytocin (88.6±9.2 vs. 62.8±9.2pg/ml saliva) and cortisol (1.3±0.1 vs. 1.0±0.1ng/ml saliva) levels, but lower heart rates (80.0±2.0 vs. 95.8±2.0bpm) than S cows. Simmental (beef) cows showed more defensive behavior (3.5±0.2 vs. 2.7±0.2 scores), but fewer total interactions between cow and calf (8.1±1.4 vs. 13.8±1.4), compared to BP (dairy). However, with the exception of heart rate and overall maternal behavior, breed differences tended to diminish from the 2nd to the 3rd day of the calf's life. Repeatabilities ranged from 9±23% (ET) to 77±7% (maternal behavior measured on a visual analogue scale), and correlations between physiological parameters and behavior differed between breeds and were generally at a low level. In conclusion, beef cows do not seem to be per se more maternal compared to dairy cows, and the assessed parameters are of limited use as biomarkers for maternal behavior. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.Physiology & Behavior 11/2014; 139C:361-368. DOI:10.1016/j.physbeh.2014.10.030 · 3.03 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Female farm animals are exposed to a great variety of environmental and management related stressors. As a consequence, their reproductive and maternal abilities may be compromised through mechanisms acting on the hypothalamic, pituitary, ovarian and uterine function. Responses to short- and long-term stressors may differ as short-term stressors often fail to affect reproduction or even may have stimulatory effects. Thus, the stress response induces diverse neuroendocrine reactions that can either increase or decrease the probability of an animal reproducing depending on the specific situation. The aim of the present review is to summarise the current knowledge on the stress concept and its implications on behaviour and reproductive performance in cows and female pigs as phenomena reported in laboratory animals are unable to explain all effects encountered in domesticated farm animals.Hormones and Behavior 07/2007; 52(1):130-8. DOI:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2007.03.014 · 4.51 Impact Factor