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Dairy calves social preference and the significance of a companion animal during separation from the group

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Abstract

The present study investigated social preferences and separation stress in dairy calves. Twelve calves were subjected to two different experimental tests: (1) a social preference test were the calves could choose between a familiar and an unfamiliar calf in a Y-maze, and (2) a separation test were the test calf were taken out from their home pen and placed in a unfamiliar pen, once together with a familiar calf, once together with an unfamiliar calf and once alone. In the social preference test, the calves spent significantly more time in the area where the familiar calf was placed (P

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... Social companions have also been shown to be beneficial during acute stress. Social support is the ability of social partners to decrease the impact of stressors during a challenge (Cohen and Wills 1985), and has been demonstrated in other farm animal species (Rault 2012), including cows and calves (e.g., Boissy and Le Neindre 1997;Piller et al. 1999;Faerevik et al. 2006;de Paula Vieira et al. 2010). ...
... Calves are known to prefer familiar conspecifics (Duve and Jensen 2011) and early separation of calf and dam may strengthen the bond between calves that are subsequently reared together (Bøe and Faerevik 2003). Thus, the relationships between calves may be especially strong in calf-rearing systems, and these early-life social bonds seem to endure (Faerevik et al. 2006). We discuss some of the evidence that calves may develop social bonds and the implications of this for how we manage calves. ...
... There is also evidence that calves may develop preferential social relationships, as opposed to relationships with unfamiliar calves. When separated from the group with a familiar calf, calves vocalized less and explored the arena more than when separated with an unfamiliar calf (Faerevik et al. 2006). Calves raised in pairs spent more time licking and sniffing each other when reunited after separation compared with an individually raised calf (Duve and Jensen 2011). ...
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Dairy calf welfare concerns are growing and new evidence suggests that the early life environment influences appropriate physical, behavioral, and cognitive development lasting into adulthood. This review highlights key evidence for the impacts of housing, diets, and painful procedures on calf welfare. We argue that these topics are currently critical welfare concerns, but are not the only points of concern. In addition to environmental requirements to maintain optimal health, dairy calves experience other challenges including social and nutritional restrictions. Individual housing is associated with impaired behavioral development and cognitive ability. Pair and group housing can mitigate some of these negative effects and should be encouraged. Restrictive milk allowances (<15% of body weight) lead to poor growth and hunger; these welfare concerns can be addressed with proper enhanced milk allowances and gradual weaning programs. Finally, dehorning is a critical animal welfare issue when pain control is withheld; calves show negative behavioral, physiological, and emotional responses during and after dehorning. The combined use of local anaesthetics and analgesics can mitigate these effects. An industry shift toward providing social companionship, enhanced milk allowances, and pain control during painful procedures would help to improve the welfare of dairy calves in intensive commercial rearing facilities.
... In physiological terms, this social stress may lead to decreased food ingestion, lower milk production and even ceased reproduction for cows (Bøe and Faerevik, 2003), and can also have a strong impact on the behaviour, cognition and health of calves (Costa et al., 2016). This stress can be reduced by the presence of familiar individuals during transfer (Costa et al., 2015;Faerevik et al., 2006). The impact of such transfers is also dependent on the sex of individuals: the removal of males from an enclosure leads to stronger cohesion between females, whilst the removal of females does not influence associations between males, which remain basic due to the sexual segregation observed in cattle (Ruckstuhl and Neuhaus, 2000;Wilson et al., 2015). ...
... We therefore preferred to analyse familiarity and did not assess the effect of kinship. Moreover, group composition change is the reason why familiarity is studied more frequently than kinship in applied studies in ungulates (Faerevik et al., 2006;Gutmann et al., 2015;Hagen and Broom, 2003;Patison et al., 2010;Takeda et al., 2003). ...
... During transfer, most young individuals leave their original group for a new group where their mother is absent. These individuals are then isolated and placed at the periphery of the group until they form new and stable relationships (Faerevik et al., 2006). Inversely, adults benefit from the transfer of young individuals as they are residents, and newly transferred individuals are seeking cohesion to alleviate their stress. ...
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The sociality of cattle facilitates the maintenance of herd cohesion and synchronisation, making these species the ideal choice for domestication as livestock for humans. However, livestock populations are not self-regulated, and farmers transfer individuals across different groups throughout their lives for reasons such as genetic mixing, reproduction and pastureland management. Individuals consequently have to adapt to different group compositions during their lives, compared to their wild counterparts choosing their own herd mates. These changes may lead to social instability and stress, entailing potentially negative effects on animal welfare. In this study, we assess the how the transfers of Highland cattle (Bos taurus) impact individual and group social network measures. We studied four groups with nine different compositions and 18 individual transfers to study 1.) the effect of group composition on individual social centralities and 2.) the effect of group composition changes on these centralities. As shown in previous studies, dyadic associations are stronger between individuals with identical age and dominance rank. Our study showed that dyadic spatial relationships are stable relatively stable between changes in group composition or enclosure but this depends on identities more than the quantity of transferred individuals. Older cattle have higher network centralities than other individuals. The centrality of individuals is also affected by their sex and the number of familiar individuals in the group. When individuals are transferred to a group with few (one or two) or no familiar individuals, their social centralities are substantially impacted. This study reveals the necessity of understanding the social structure of a group to predict social instability through the transfer of individuals between groups.
... The findings on ruminating and lying are also inconclusive as they were reported either to decrease 6,27,29 or did not change after disbudding 30,[34][35][36] . Exploration does not seem to change after disbudding 37 , but it may be decreased in other stressful situations, i.e., when exposed to a novel environment without a companion calf 38 . Play serves as an indicator of positive animal welfare which decreases in disbudded calves 35,39,40 . ...
... Conversely, the presence of a familiar social companion may have facilitated better recovery from disbudding. In this case, our finding would be the first evidence of social buffering in disbudded calves, consistent with the findings on social buffering in calves which were exposed to different types of stressors18,19,38 . Bolt et al. and De Paula Vieira reported improved ability to cope with weaning stress in pair-housed calves compared to individually housed individuals18,19 . ...
... Bolt et al. and De Paula Vieira reported improved ability to cope with weaning stress in pair-housed calves compared to individually housed individuals18,19 . Faerevik et al. reported that calves vocalized less, were more active and explored more when tested with a companion calf in a separation test38 . Despite the more frequent eating forage, we did not find an increased ruminating in pair-housed calves. ...
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Abstract Most dairy calves are housed individually in early ontogeny but social housing has positive effects on calf welfare including an advantage of social buffering, i.e., when negative effects of stress are mitigated through social support of conspecific. The effects of social buffering has not yet been examined in relation to disbudding; a painful husbandry procedure commonly performed on young dairy calves. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of pair versus individual housing on calves’ behavioral reaction to disbudding. In total 52 female calves were randomly allocated either to individual (n = 16) or pair housing (n = 36, 18 focal). Calves were hot-iron disbudded with a local anesthetic and their spontaneous behavior in home pens was recorded for 24 h pre- and post-disbudding. Eating forage, ruminating, resting, exploration, play, self-grooming, and pain-related behaviors were quantified during eight 20 min intervals during the 24 h periods pre- as well as post-disbudding. In pair-housed (PAIR) calves social resting, active and passive allo-grooming were additionally recorded. The differences between individually housed (INDI, n = 10) and PAIR calves (n = 12) were tested by general linear models. The changes in pre- and post-disbudding behaviors in all calves as well as in social behaviors of PAIR calves were tested by paired t-test. We found that head shaking (t = − 3.46, P = 0.0024), head rubbing (t = 4.96, P
... Calves observed in a semi-natural setting spent more time grazing and resting with certain individuals over the course of a six-month observation period [17], suggesting the formation of preferential bonds. These effects of familiarity on bonding can additionally be interpreted through responses in behavioral tests, as dairy calves choose to spend more time in proximity to a familiar calf following grouping, when tested in a y-maze [18]. Similarly, older heifers and cows choose to spend more time in close proximity to a familiar cow following regrouping [19]. ...
... Within 48 h following birth, calves were alternately assigned to either individual housing (n = 20 calves; birthweight 40.6 ± 5.1 kg) or pair housing (n = 20 pairs; 1 focal calf per pair; focal calf birthweight 39.9 ± 3.4 kg) for the first eight weeks of life. Sample size was based on previous work with similar response variables (effects of social contact on social preference; [18,22]). Pens were constructed of wire mesh with pens for pair-housed calves twice the size of individual calf pens (1.8 by 1.8 m, vs. 0.9 by 1.8 m). ...
... At approximately 4 weeks of age (29.3 ± 1.9 d of age, mean ± SD) calves were tested in a social preference test, conducted in an open arena, and modeled after other simple tests used to assess social preferences [18,22]. Individually housed calves (n = 20) and the focal calf from each pair (n = 20) were tested. ...
Article
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Social housing for dairy calves has a range of benefits for social development, yet there is limited understanding of how social bonds form early in life. We characterized effects of early life social contact on the development of social preference for calves varying in familiarity. A total of 40 calves were tested in a social preference test at 4 weeks of age to assess the formation of social bonds and preference for their peers. Within an open-field social preference test, focal calves were presented with two stimulus calves, one 'more familiar' and one 'less familiar'. We found that pair-housed calves spent more time in close proximity with either stimulus calf and had a greater preference for their pen-mate, compared to another calf reared within visual contact. Individually housed calves exhibited no preference for calves reared within visual but not physical contact compared to calves that were completely unfamiliar. Of the calves that approached both stimulus calves, individually housed calves that approached the 'less familiar' calf first spent less time near the 'more familiar' calf, whereas behavior of pair-housed calves was not affected by the first calf approached. These results suggest that physical contact is necessary for the development of social bonds in young dairy calves, and early life social housing may support the development of normal social behavior in dairy cattle.
... In physiological terms, social stress may lead to decreased food ingestion, lower milk production and even ceased reproduction for cows (8), and can also have a strong impact on the behavior, cognition and health of calves (14). This stress can be reduced by the presence of familiar individuals during transfer (20,21). The impact of such transfers is also dependent on the sex of individuals: the removal of males from an enclosure leads to stronger cohesion between females, whilst the removal of females does not influence associations between males. ...
... We therefore preferred to analyse familiarity and did not assess the effect of kinship. Moreover, kinship is very difficult to study in ungulate groups, where the composition changes frequently (10,12,18,19,21). ...
... During transfer, most young individuals leave their original group for a new group without their mother. These individuals are then isolated and placed at the periphery of the group until they form new and stable relationships (21). Conversely, adults benefit from the transfer of young individuals as they are residents, and newly transferred individuals seek cohesion to alleviate their stress. ...
Article
Full-text available
The sociality of cattle facilitates the maintenance of herd cohesion and synchronisation, making these species the ideal choice for domestication as livestock for humans. However, livestock populations are not self-regulated, and farmers transfer individuals across different groups. Individuals consequently have to adapt to different group compositions during their lives rather than choose their own herd mates, as they would do in the wild. These changes may lead to social instability and stress, entailing potentially negative effects on animal welfare. In this study, we assess how the transfer of Highland cattle (Bos taurus) impacts individual and group social network measures. Four groups with nine different compositions and 18 individual transfers were studied to evaluate 1) the effect of group composition on individual social centralities and 2) the effect of group composition changes on these centralities. This study reveals that the relative stability of dyadic spatial relationships between changes in group composition or enclosure is due to the identities of transferred individuals more than the quantity of individuals that are transferred. Older cattle had higher network centralities than other individuals. The centrality of individuals was also affected by their sex and the number of familiar individuals in the group. This study reveals the necessity of understanding the social structure of a group to predict social instability following the transfer of individuals between groups. The developing of guidelines for the modification of group composition could improve livestock management and reduce stress for the animals concerned.
... Social isolation Before recent domestication, cattle evolved in a herd environment (Kiley, 1972) which enabled the development of long-lasting social bonds (Faerevik et al., 2006) and facilitated collective predator detection (Padilla de la Torre et al., 2016). With the exception of calving, where cattle prefer to be isolated from conspecifics, cattle are highly gregarious, meaning that isolation from their conspecifics on farm can be detrimental to their welfare and overall fitness. ...
... For example, the accepted routine for sick or injured animals is to separate them in order to prevent further transmission of disease and to facilitate the animal's recovery. As a consequence of this isolation, cattle exhibit marked physiological changes including increased heart rate, salivary cortisol, urination and defecation rates (Mueller and Schrader, 2005) alongside changes in their locomotory activity (Mueller and Schrader, 2005;Faerevik et al., 2006). As per cow-calf separation, cattle isolated from their familiar conspecifics additionally exhibit increased vocal responses (Mueller and Schrader, 2005;Faerevik et al., 2006) with the communicative purpose of regaining contact with their herd or expressing their level of distress. ...
... As a consequence of this isolation, cattle exhibit marked physiological changes including increased heart rate, salivary cortisol, urination and defecation rates (Mueller and Schrader, 2005) alongside changes in their locomotory activity (Mueller and Schrader, 2005;Faerevik et al., 2006). As per cow-calf separation, cattle isolated from their familiar conspecifics additionally exhibit increased vocal responses (Mueller and Schrader, 2005;Faerevik et al., 2006) with the communicative purpose of regaining contact with their herd or expressing their level of distress. ...
Article
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Vocalisations are commonly expressed by gregarious animals, including cattle, as a form of short- and long-distance communication. They can provide conspecifics with meaningful information about the physiology, affective state and physical attributes of the caller. In cattle, calls are individually distinct meaning they assist animals to identify specific individuals in the herd. Consequently, there is potential for these vocalisations to be acoustically analysed to make inferences about how individual animals or herds are coping with their external surroundings, and then act on these signals to improve feed conversion efficiency, reproductive efficiency and welfare. In the case of dairy farming, where herd sizes are expanding and farmers are becoming more reliant on technologies to assist in the monitoring of cattle, the study of vocal behaviour could provide an objective, cost effective and non-invasive alternative to traditional measures of welfare. The vocalisations of cattle in response to calf separation, social isolation and painful husbandry procedures, alongside changes to feeding and oestrous activity are here reviewed. For future application of sound technology, research is first necessary to analyse the acoustic structure of cattle vocalisations and determine the specific information they encode. This review draws together the latest research in field of cattle bioacoustics highlighting how the source–filter theory and affective state dimensional approach can be adopted to decode this information and improve on-farm management.
... While cross-sucking cannot occur in individually housed calves, oral-sucking between calves in adjacent pens is observed through partitions. However, it is still more prevalent in group than individual systems (Babu et al, 2004) z z Calves in groups may also compete with pen-mates for limited resources, such as: milk, feed and desirable resting space (Faerevik et al, 2006). While age composition and group size are thought to be important factors in social behaviour (Faerevik et al, 2010), good husbandry in association with small homogeneous groups will reduce these consequences (Svensson and Liberg, 2006). ...
... Cattle vocalisations can be a good indicator of both biological and emotional state (Watts and Stookey, 2000). Research has shown that calves increase vocalisations as a result of social isolation, and a similar response is seen if they are housed with an unfamiliar calf (Faerevik et al, 2006). However, the response is considerably reduced if separated with a peer. ...
Article
Maternal and social isolation have been shown to have detrimental effects on behaviour that persist into adulthood in a range of species. In the UK, dairy calves are separated from their dam almost immediately, and 60% are individually reared during their first weeks of life. The cost of rearing heifers is thought to account for 10% of milk production costs. Improving performance of rearing could have a considerable effect on dairy industry profitability. The aim of this review is to look at the effects of individual housing of dairy calves and to consider the application of social housing on farm.
... Cattle are gregarious animals that express a need for social contact (calves: Wood-Gush et al.,1984;Faerevik et al., 2006;cows: Boissy and Neindre, 1997). Keeping cows with their peers facilitates synchronized activities (Krohn et al., 1992), affiliative interactions (Spinka et al., 2001), as well as social support, i.e. modulating or down-regulating the impact of stressors on the recipient's homeostasis ("Stress buffering theory", Cohen and Wills, 1985; "Social support", Rault, 2012). ...
... Keeping cows with their peers facilitates synchronized activities (Krohn et al., 1992), affiliative interactions (Spinka et al., 2001), as well as social support, i.e. modulating or down-regulating the impact of stressors on the recipient's homeostasis ("Stress buffering theory", Cohen and Wills, 1985; "Social support", Rault, 2012). The latter has been observed in calves (Faerevik et al., 2006), heifers Neisen et al., 2009), cows (Gutmann et al., 2015), as well as in bulls (Mounier et al., 2006). Despite the effort to keep dairy cows in contact with conspecifics, individual cows are often removed from their groups on farms for routine husbandry procedures, such as artificial insemination or claw trimming. ...
Article
In dairy farming, social isolation of cattle is commonly practiced for husbandry procedures such as artificial insemination, claw trimming and at times, for provision of medical treatment. When isolated, cows express physiological and behavioural signs of stress, such as elevated heart rate, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical activity and increased vocalisation rate. The aim of this study was to examine whether enriching the environment of the isolation pen using both tactile (i.e. an automated grooming brush) and visual (i.e. a mirror) stimulation could alleviate stress induced in socially isolated dairy cows. Eighteen cows (9 lactating and 9 dry cows) were subjected to four isolation conditions of 30 minutes each; isolation in the presence of a mirror, in the presence of an automated grooming brush, in the presence of both a mirror and an automated grooming brush, and in a non-enriched environment (without brush and mirror) that served as a control condition. Physiological (heart rate and heart rate variability) and behavioural indicators of stress (locomotion, vocalizations, attempts to escape the isolation pen and ear position of the cows) were measured during three phases throughout the isolation period (0-5 min, 10-15 min, 20-25 min). Our results show that, first, the heart rate of cows kept in social isolation, as well as the time cows spent in locomotion and exploration of the pen, decreased throughout the isolation period, regardless of treatment. Second, the presence of an automated grooming brush, a mirror or both an automated grooming brush and mirror in the isolation pen was not associated with reduced indicators of stress (physiological and behavioural measures) compared to the non-enriched environment. The results of our study are not in agreement with the findings of previous studies showing reduced levels of stress among socially isolated heifers/cows kept in the presence of visual enrichment (i.e. mirror/picture of a conspecific), and illustrate the need to further explore practices to reduce stress during social isolation.
... /fvets. . more effective social support than unfamiliar conspecifics (139,140). However, the importance of individualized social relationships beyond the mother-offspring bond has received comparatively less research attention. ...
... Moreover, comparatively fewer studies have investigated the benefits of socio-positive interactions for farm animal health and welfare (30, 129). Social preference tests and experiments that measure individuals' motivation to return to specific group members may be particularly useful in addressing these questions [e.g., see (130,140,180); see Table 1]. Investigating the emotional costs of breaking social bonds may also provide valuable insights into the function and benefits of positive social interactions. ...
Article
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A fundamental understanding of behavior is essential to improving the welfare of billions of farm animals around the world. Despite living in an environment managed by humans, farm animals are still capable of making important behavioral decisions that influence welfare. In this review, we focus on social interactions as perhaps the most dynamic and challenging aspects of the lives of farm animals. Social stress is a leading welfare concern in livestock, and substantial variation in social behavior is seen at the individual and group level. Here, we consider how a fundamental understanding of social behavior can be used to: (i) understand agonistic and affiliative interactions in farm animals; (ii) identify how artificial environments influence social behavior and impact welfare; and (iii) provide insights into the mechanisms and development of social behavior. We conclude by highlighting opportunities to build on previous work and suggest potential fundamental hypotheses of applied relevance. Key areas for further research could include identifying the welfare benefits of socio–positive interactions, the potential impacts of disrupting important social bonds, and the role of skill in allowing farm animals to navigate competitive and positive social interactions. Such studies should provide insights to improve the welfare of farm animals, while also being applicable to other contexts, such as zoos and laboratories.
... Some 20 have found that after social isolation, reunion with any conspecific (familiar or unfamiliar) helped to reduce behavioural responses; while others 28 found that a familiar companion was a more efficient buffer of the behavioural response during a novelty test and surprise test, and the physiological response during a surprise test and conflict test. The importance of familiarity between individuals seems to vary with age, potentially being less important with older subjects 20,58 . In adult cattle, after a separation from the group, any form of conspecific could help to reduce the subject's behavioural responses during the reunion period 20 . ...
... In adult cattle, after a separation from the group, any form of conspecific could help to reduce the subject's behavioural responses during the reunion period 20 . However, in calves, it has been found that a familiar conspecific was more effective than an unfamiliar conspecific in reducing the behavioural response during a separation from the group 58 . The results of these studies are potentially consistent with the lack of effect of familiarity in our own study as the horses used are older (mean age 13.2 years in the first study and 14.2 in the second one). ...
Article
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Social buffering occurs when the presence of one animal attenuates another’s stress response during a stressful event and/or helps the subject to recover more quickly after a stressful event. Inconsistent previous results might reflect previously unrecognised contextual influences, such as the nature of the stimulus presented or social factors. We addressed these issues in a two-part study of horses paired with familiar (16 subjects) or unfamiliar (16 subjects) companions. Each subject performed 4 tests in a counterbalanced order: novel object test (static ball)—alone or with companion; and umbrella opening test—alone or with companion. Social buffering was significantly influenced by the nature of the stimulus presented, but not by companion’s habituation status or familiarity. Importantly, the stimulus used produced differential effects on behavioural and physiological measures of buffering. A companion significantly reduced behavioural response (reactivity) in the novel object test but not in the umbrella test. However, heart rate recovered more quickly for subjects with a companion in the umbrella test but not in the novel object test. We propose that circumstances which permit greater contextual processing may facilitate demonstration of behavioural effects of social buffering, whereas buffering in response to startling events may be manifest only during post-event physiological recovery.
... The strong social cohesion of water buffaloes was intensified by their tendency to form large groups including most of their partners (positive association with the betweenness centrality) and consequently minimizing the isolation. In this regard, Jensen (2018) stated that cattle perceive isolation as an aversive characteristic and that they demonstrate signs of increased stress when isolated or deprived of their herd partners (Raussi et al., 2003;Faerevik et al., 2006). At a deeper level, the grouping and the inclusive tendency of water buffaloes might result in the formation of small subgroups like "neighborhoods". ...
Article
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Water buffaloes are considered social animals and perform several activities on pasture, such as grazing, moving, standing, ruminating, wallowing, lying, and drinking. However, the way these animals form their social structure in the herd during each one of these activities is still unknown. Literature for water buffaloes has focused mainly on their productive characteristics, impact of grazing on wetlands and behavior during grazing but failed to address the way these animals form their social organization during their activities on pasture. In this study, the tools of social network analysis are used to analyze, detect, and depict the proximity patterns in water buffaloes' activities on pasture and the effect of their age and gender on them. We describe and interpret a series of global and local network indices, and show that the water buffaloes differentiate their social structure in their activities on pasture and that the animals' age and gender affect their interacting patterns, and provide a framework for the application of social network analysis on grazing animals' social behavioral studies. We expect that this framework could be used in future research to provide information regarding the social structure of other kinds of animals that graze in different forage and climatic environments and help animal breeders to improve their management practices.
... Their comparably more positive affective states might enable PAIR calves to provide more effective social support to their partners. It is known that social partners decrease the effects of stressors in mammals 16,[51][52][53] and that this effect is stronger with familiar compared to unfamiliar conspecifics (e.g. in calves 54 ). Thus, our study might incite a novel line of research, namely to investigate whether calves (and social animals in general) that are in a more positive affective state provide more effective social support than individuals that are in a more negative affective state. ...
Article
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Individual housing of dairy calves is common farm practice, but has negative effects on calf welfare. A compromise between practice and welfare may be housing calves in pairs. We compared learning performances and affective states as assessed in a judgement bias task of individually housed and pair-housed calves. Twenty-two calves from each housing treatment were trained on a spatial Go/No-go task with active trial initiation to discriminate between the location of a teat-bucket signalling either reward (positive location) or non-reward (negative location). We compared the number of trials to learn the operant task (OT) for the trial initiation and to finish the subsequent discrimination task (DT). Ten pair-housed and ten individually housed calves were then tested for their responses to ambiguous stimuli positioned in-between the positive and negative locations. Housing did not affect learning speed (OT: F1,35 = 0.39, P = 0.54; DT: F1,19 = 0.15, P = 0.70), but pair-housed calves responded more positively to ambiguous cues than individually housed calves (χ21 = 6.79, P = 0.009), indicating more positive affective states. This is the first study to demonstrate that pair housing improves the affective aspect of calf welfare when compared to individual housing.
... Ces observations vont dans le sens de travaux montrant que les réactions de stress des bovins sont moins prononcées en présence d'un congénère familier qu'en présence d'un congénère non familier Faerevik et al., 2006). ...
Thesis
La période d’abattage est complexe car elle se compose d’une succession de situations associées à une multitude de facteurs de stress. L’animal est généralement privé d’alimentation et est ensuite confronté à un environnement changeant et contraignant qui demande en permanence des adaptations comportementales et physiologiques affectant son état émotionnel. Les objectifs de cette thèse sont (i) de mieux comprendre l’origine des réactions des bovins au cours de la période d’abattage, et (ii) d’évaluer leur stress d’un point de vue comportemental et physiologique à l’aide d’études menées à la fois en abattoir industriel et dans des conditions expérimentales.Nos travaux sur le terrain mettent en évidence la nécessité de tenir compte de toutes les procédures d’abattage, y compris les plus courtes, ainsi que des contraintes organisationnelles des abattoirs car elles influencent l’état de stress des bovins. Pendant la période d’élevage, la caractérisation des bovins selon leur réactivité émotionnelle,qui dépend en partie de leur expérience antérieure et de leur race, permet d’identifier les animaux susceptibles de réagir plus fortement aux procédures d’abattage. Elle permet également de déterminer les facteurs de stress prépondérants associés à ces procédures. Ainsi, la nouveauté et la séparation sociale expliquent en partie les réactions de stress à l’abattage chez les vaches. Chez les taurillons, les réactions de stress à l’abattage sont liées à leur réactivité cardiaque à la soudaineté et à l’Homme. De plus, les bovins réagissent plus fortement à différents facteurs de stress lorsqu’ils sont privés de nourriture. L’état physiologique des bovins influence donc leurs réactions de stress à l’abattage, probablement en modulant leur perception de la situation. Afin de réduire le niveau de stress des bovins pendant la période d’abattage, nos travaux montrent qu’il est possible d’agir sur l’environnement en limitant les sources de stress directes et indirectes. Il est également possible d’agir au niveau de l’animal par le biais de son expérience antérieure et de sa génétique.
... Because toys and other types of enrichment were still provided when separated or alone, the changes in object play frequency resulted from the animals' own choice. Social separation or isolation are thought to be aversive situations (Brunelli & Hofer, 2007;Meyer & Hamel, 2014;Panksepp, 1998Panksepp, , 2005Panksepp, , 2011 and have often been used as stressful conditions during experiments on social animals (horses, Equus caballus: Żelazna & Jezierski, 2018; sheeps, Ovis aries: Lyons, Price, & Moberg, 1993; dairy calves, Bos taurus Taurus: Faerevik, Jensen, & Bøe, 2006; for a review, see Hennessy, 1997). Such stressful or uncomfortable situations could therefore have impacted animals' playfulness. ...
Article
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The number of welfare-oriented studies is increasing in captive animals, including odontocetes species that are widely kept in zoos and aquaria. However, validated welfare indicators are lacking for captive odontocetes. We studied the effect of several conditions (time of the day, delay to training, social grouping, public presence, housing pool) and stimuli (enrichment, unusual events) on the solitary behavior of Yangtze finless porpoises (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis asiaeorientalis), East Asian finless porpoises (N. a. sunameri), and bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). Each group exhibited different behavioral variations depending on the context. However, some common patterns were found. The frequency of solitary play increased in the 3 groups in positive conditions and decreased in negative contexts. Jumping was mostly displayed in conditions that are thought to be stressful or exciting. Stereotypical behaviors for Yangtze finless porpoises and environment-hitting behaviors for bottlenose dolphins were more frequent during social separation and less frequent when enrichment was provided, suggesting that they could indicate mild stress, lack of stimulation, or frustration. Finally, environmental rubbing seemed to be mostly displayed in quiet contexts. The frequency variation of studied behaviors depending on the context provides preliminary information on their potential use as welfare indicators.
... Our results are in accordance with previous studies [8,17,22,23], and support the idea that some dairy calves develop preferential bonds with peers at an early age. However, as only a few pairs established highly preferential relationships, our results highlight that calves differed in how they distributed their interactions with the other members of the herd and that not all calves engage in preferential relationships. ...
Article
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Negative social interactions have been extensively studied in dairy cattle, but little is known about the establishment of positive (preferential) relationships. Adult dairy cows are known to spend more time at close proximity to specific social partners, indicating that they establish stronger bonds with these animals, but few studies have explored what happens in socially housed calves. In this study, we explored whether calves that spent their entire life in the same social group established social preferences (i.e. pairs of individuals that interact more) that are stable over time (two 48-h periods, separated by three days), across two types of behavior (standing and lying) and across contexts (change in environment and housing design). When housed in an open pack, calves showed consistent proximity patterns when standing (but not when lying). These preferential relationships persisted even after calves were moved into a new pen fitted with free stalls. At the individual level, calves varied in how selective they were in their social relationships, with some calves spending much more time with specific partners than did others. This degree of selectivity was not associated to Sociability, marginally associated to Fearfulness, but was associated with Pessimism (more pessimistic calves were more selective in their social relationships). In conclusion, calves can form selective relationships that appeared to be consistent over time and across context, and the degree to which calves were selective varied in relation to individual differences in Pessimism.
... The presence of companions can buffer adverse effects of stress. For instance, calves and heifers were reacting less to a novel and fear eliciting situation when they were with a companion than when alone (Faerevik et al., 2006;Boissy and Le Neindre, 1990) and horses were less fearful when they had been observing a habituated demonstrator completing a frightening task prior to performing the same task themselves (Christensen et al., 2008;Rørvang et al., 2015a). The disadvantages of keeping animals together in test situations are, however, potential social transmission of fear or induced curiosity caused by reduced fear. ...
Presentation
Olfaction is the main sensory modality in the majority of mammalian species, playing a key role in their interactions with the environment. However, the link between chemical signals and animal behaviour has often been ignored, especially with respect to large domestic species. In cattle, there may be unexploited potential for using odours and olfaction in their management. By applying an olfactory habituation/dishabituation test originally developed for rodents, this study aimed to assess olfactory ability in cattle. Group housed, pregnant, dry cows (n=10) and heifers (n=13) were presented with three different odours (orange juice, liquid coffee and a tap water control placed in a test bucket) in randomised order. The test was conducted on individual animals in their home pen and consisted of each odour being presented twice in a row for 2 min each with an inter-trial pause of 2 min. Following another 2-min pause without odour the animal was presented with the new odour, with order of odour presentation balanced between 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; Median (IQR): 3.01 (0.43-11.61), 0 (0-5.14), 15.19 (4.73-42.50), 3.04 (0-12.08), 8.61 (2.72-46.76) and 1.44 (0-7.69) for Water1, Water2, Coffee1; Coffee2, Orange1 and Orange2, Wilcoxon-Pratt signed-rank test: all 1st vs. 2nd presentations: z  4.20, P<0.001). Sniffing duration increased after presentation of a new odour (dishabituation; all 2nd vs. 1st presentations: z  -3.74, P< 0.001). All animals sniffed coffee and orange longer than water (water vs. coffee, z= -4.17, P<0.001 and water vs. orange, z= -3.74, P< 0.001), but the animals also sniffed coffee longer than orange (z= 2.28, P=0.021). Licking or biting behaviour occurred only when presented with coffee or orange (13 out of 23 animals for both samples). No effect of parity was found for sniffing, licking or biting behaviour. This is the first example of an olfactory test being adapted for and applied to cattle, which adds to our knowledge of what types of odours bovines are capable of smelling. The test showed that cattle can distinguish between different complex odours (coffee and orange), and that increased interest was evoked for one of these odours (coffee). These results are the first steps towards exploring the possibility of using odours when adapting or enriching the environment in which we keep cattle and improving the management practices currently applied.
... In cattle, pairwise integrated heifers adapt faster as compared to singly integrated ones (O'Connell et al., 2008;Gygax et al., 2009;Neisen et al., 2009). For the effectiveness of social buffering, familiarity might be a critical factor in different species including cattle (Takeda et al., 2003;Faerevik et al., 2006;Rault, 2012;McLennan, 2013;Kiyokawa and Hennessy, 2018). Our study therefore aimed at investigating possible effects of familiarity on behaviour after regrouping, taking into account that early familiarity and recent familiarity may influence the animals differently (Raussi et al., 2010;Gutmann et al., 2015). ...
Article
As dairy cows’ needs and demands change over the different phases of their reproductive cycle, regrouping is common practice in dairy farming to facilitate management and handling. However, social instability associated with regrouping is known to have negative effects on the cows, including disturbances in their lying behaviour. In this study, we examined the effect of familiar group mates on lying time and lying synchrony in a dynamic group of approximately 50 early lactating dairy cows during 23 regrouping events. We focussed on 13 primiparous and 33 multiparous post partum cows during 24 hours after their introduction to the group as compared to a matched control sample of resident cows. We hypothesised that freshly introduced cows would lie shorter and behave less synchronously with the group as compared to resident cows. Further, we hypothesised that lying duration and lying synchrony will increase with the number of familiar animals present and that these effects may depend on whether the familiarity was acquired early in life or only recently. As predicted, primiparous fresh cows lied less and behaved less synchronous at the dyadic level than their matched residents. However, no such effect was present in multiparous cows. The presence of recently familiar animals had no influence on either primiparous or multiparous cows’ behaviour. In contrast, early familiar animals affected the cows’ behaviour in several aspects, yet differently in primiparas and multiparas. In fresh primiparas, an increasing number of early familiar animals present had a negative effect on lying duration. Among both fresh and resident primiparas, early familiar dyads were more synchronized than other pairs of animals. In multiparous cows, a higher number of early familiar cows present led to more synchronous behaviour with the group. We conclude that primiparous and multiparous cows are differently affected when introduced to a lactating group after calving. Duration and synchronization of lying behaviour indicated that primiparas are strongly challenged by their entrance to the group while multiparas cope well with it. In both primiparas and multiparas, lying behaviour was affected, albeit differently, by the presence of early familiar individuals, but not by recently familiar animals. The relations between familiarity, group dynamics, behavioural synchrony and lying behaviour are complex and need deeper investigation.
... The influence of social buffering is apparent during separation in cattle, especially because familiarity plays a key role in reducing stress (Gutmann, 2015). For instance, when cattle are separated with a peer, stress is lower than when they are separated with an unfamiliar animal or as individuals (Faerevik et al, 2006). Regrouping cattle so that they are with familiar animals may reduce stress and diminish aggressive behaviours (Boe and Faerevik, 2003). ...
Article
Environmental enrichment is a key aspect of animal welfare and productivity. Enrichment for livestock can be cost effective and used successfully on farm. The benefits generally outweigh any costs of providing enrichment and it should be taken into account when providing housing facilities for farm animals. It also reduces abnormal behaviours commonly seen in production animals, thus decreasing issues associated with poor animal health. The aim of this review is to summarise information and research that highlights the importance of understanding farm animal behaviour and indicates how enrichment will benefit the welfare and productivity of livestock.
... Proponents of these methods argue that allowing calves to remain in a familiar environment following maternal separation reduces stress [42], as calves in novel environments display escape behaviors, search for social partners [43], and suffer fear [44]. In addition, calves display more positive social interactions with familiar calves during separation [45], which results in a calming effect [46]. Even though some increase in labor is required for the daily management of the herd, techniques like accustoming young animals to brief separations from their mother, may reduce the impact of separation at weaning [47]. ...
Article
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Nursing a calf suppresses postpartum ovarian activity prolonging the period of anestrus. Diverse methods are used to reduce the effect of suckling; the most popular, restricted suckling, reduces the number of encounters mother-calf. Temporal weaning of the calf for periods of 24 h, 48 h, or even 72 h also suppress the effect of suckling and is commonly applied to cow-calf operations in the tropics. Early weaning of the calf, usually three to five months after birth, is a practice gaining popularity over the traditional system of weaning at seven months. Furthermore, the use of nose-flaps in the calf to avoid suckling is a common procedure in South America. Finally, weaning during the first week after calving is an established method to reduce postpartum anestrus. The objective of the present review is to discuss the effects of these methods on the reproductive performance of beef cattle and their animal welfare implications.
... Group-living animals also show a strong motivation to form social associations and will work for access to conspecifics 35 . Furthermore, herbivores have been shown to be capable of social discrimination 36,37 and individuals are known to associate in a non-random way i.e. they show preferential associations for specific individuals 33,38,39 . In this study, thirty 1 yr old female Brahman cattle (Bos indicus) reared together since birth, were divided into six groups of five 'resident' animals. ...
Article
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Social network analysis has increasingly been considered a useful tool to interpret the complexity of animal social relationships. However, group composition can affect the contact structure of the network resulting in variation between networks. Replication in contact network studies is rarely done but enables determination of possible variation in response across networks. Here we explore the importance of between-group variability in social behaviour and the impact of replication on hypothesis testing. We use an exemplar study of social contact data collected from six replicated networks of cattle before and after the application of a social disturbance treatment. In this replicated study, subtle but consistent changes in animal contact patterns were detected after the application of a social disturbance treatment. We then quantify both within- and between-group variation in this study and explore the importance of varying the number of replicates and the number of individuals within each network, on the precision of the differences in treatment effects for the contact behaviour of the resident cattle. The analysis demonstrates that reducing the number of networks observed in the study would reduce the probability of detecting treatment differences for social behaviours even if the total number of animals was kept the same.
... Rather than housing calves individually from birth to weaning, farmers might instead consider housing calves in small groups of 6-8 or even in pairs after a few days to a week after birth. Doing so has been shown to confer abundant benefits to calves, including improved cognitive development, reduced weaning distress, and improved postweaning growth performance (Jensen et al., 1997;Faerevik et al., 2006;De Paula Vieira et al., 2010, 2012aGaillard et al., 2014;Pempek et al., 2016). ...
Chapter
Societal pressures require the US dairy industries to better and more comprehensively address animal welfare in keeping with the expectations of all stakeholders. As consumers and members of the public increasingly attend to natural living as an indicator of animal quality of life, and by extension, the quality of products derived from the animals (Harper and Makatouni, 2002; Cardoso et al., 2016), the notion of telos and its application to dairy cow management and production becomes increasingly relevant. The idea that cows have natures of their own and interests that flow from those (Rollin, 1993, 2016) suggests that their preferences should be paramount in the systems in which we choose to raise them. The extent to which cows are afforded their telos by way of concessions toward natural living appears to have tangible impacts on various aspects of their welfare, impacts that also matter to farmers and others within the dairy industries. Bruijnis et al. (2013) call for an integral perspective wherein “more than only the functioning and feelings of the animals in the present is of importance… and where flourishing is worthwhile striving for in itself.” Broader consideration of the cow’s welfare in the context of flourishing and living in accordance with her telos—rather than simply surviving, reproducing and producing—is therefore needed, and may be critical in ensuring the sustainability and social acceptability of dairy production.
... Social buffering, which refers to the notion that the presence of a peer reduces the negative effect of a stressful event (Rault, 2012), might be an appropriate mechanism to reduce stress during handling practices. Dairy calves have been shown to vocalise less and explore more when placed in a novel room with a companion than calves placed in a novel room alone (Duve and Jensen, 2011;Faerevik et al., 2006). Heifers more readily approached a human and ate more when accompanied by a companion in a novel place (Veissier and le Neindre, 1992), and the presence of conspecifics appears to reduce the behavioural responses to isolation regardless of the identity (i.e., familiarity) of the companion (Boissy and Le Neindre, 1997;Veissier and le Neindre, 1992). ...
Article
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The ability of dairy cattle to adapt to husbandry systems and management routines is crucial for ensuring higher welfare and efficient production. However, this ability can be compromised by our limited knowledge of their cognitive abilities, which may result in suboptimal husbandry and management standards. In this narrative review, we highlight three topics of cattle cognition research that are currently understudied, and yet key to developing future high welfare dairy cattle housing systems: 1) transmission of information from cow to calf, 2) mechanisms to attenuate fear, and 3) cognitive processes involved in the human-cattle relationship. We review the currently available literature on all three topics and highlight promising research areas from an animal husbandry point of view. We conclude that future studies should focus on elucidating what, and how much, calves learn from their dam during prolonged cow-calf contact in dairy cattle systems. Such information could constitute an important part of the discussion of whether to keep cows and calves together for a longer time after calving in the dairy industry. Fear in the cattle group might be lowered by the use of calm companions and future studies could uncover if attenuation of fear might even be induced by conditioning positive experiences of cattle with unrelated stimuli such as odours. Lastly, the human-cattle relationship might benefit from utilising the already established training regimes from other species, for example positive reinforcement training or target training, which may have the potential to decrease risk of injury during handling for both the cow and the handler.
... This then translates into improved weight gains in pair housed calves [12,13], which continue after the weaning period [14]. The presence of another calf also has a calming effect on behavioural responses in stressful situations [15][16][17], with individually reared calves shown to be more fearful when introduced to a novel social situation and when isolated in a novel arena [18,19]. On the other hand, pair housed calves have shown higher behavioural flexibility, being able to modify their behaviour in response to a changing environment such as mixing with unfamiliar calves [12]. ...
Article
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Housing management of dairy calves is one of the factors that contributes to a successful rearing outcome. Individual housing of pre-weaned calves is thought to provide enhanced biosecurity and easier monitoring of the individual, and so remains prevalent in the UK. Behavioural studies have, however, found that pair housing is important for social learning, with positive impacts on health and welfare. This study utilised a single UK commercial dairy farm to establish if individual housing, pair housing from birth, or pair housing from three weeks of age affected health and behavioural parameters. Calves were housed in these allocated groups from birth to eight weeks of age, when they were moved into group pens of five calves for weaning at 10 weeks of age. All management routines other than the housing group were the same for enrolled calves. One hundred Holstein calves were recruited over a six-month period, and systematically allocated to a housing group. Weekly visits were conducted up to 10 weeks of age (weaning) for each calf, with weight, solid feed intake, and presence of clinical disease measured. In addition, a novel object approach test was carried out at six weeks, and a thoracic ultrasound was performed at seven weeks. Housing group had no effect on the average daily liveweight gain (ADLG) (p = 0.74), with an average of 0.66 kg/day over the pre-weaning period. However, on group housing at 8–10 weeks of age, there was a numerical increase in ADLG in the pair housed calves compared to the individually housed calves over the weaning period. Housing group had no significant effect on disease prevalence (p = 0.98) or the time taken to approach the novel object (p = 0.29). However, pair housed calves had increased mean total solid feed intakes from weeks 2–8 (p = 0.011), with 6.2 ± 0.67 kg (standard error of the mean - SEM), 12.7 ± 0.73 kg and 13.6 ± 0.70 kg ingested by individually housed, pair housed from birth and pair housed from three weeks of age, respectively. The overall findings of this study indicate that within a UK commercial dairy management system, there is no detrimental effect of housing calves within pairs (either from birth or three weeks of age) compared to individual housing.
... Limiting social isolation to the first week of life is clearly an improvement given that calves separated from the dam at birth start interacting with other calves as soon as the second day of life [56]. In addition, young calves are motivated for full social contact [57] and prefer familiar individuals [58,59], suggesting the early establishment of social bonds as important and long lasting [60]. ...
Article
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Simple Summary: This paper aims to identify improvements and gaps in the specific EU regulations for organic farming and whether they promote higher welfare standards for dairy cattle compared to the "minimum standards" set up for conventional farming. Based on the available scientific evidence, we identified areas in the organic regulations where the welfare status of the animals is improved, but some limitations and gaps exist. Abstract: Animal welfare is an emerging concept in EU law; with the advent of specific regulations intending to protect animals. The approach taken by European lawmakers is to provide "minimum standards" for conventional farming; argued by some as failing to adequately protect animals. In contrast, the EU organic farming regulations aim to "establish a sustainable management system for agriculture" and promote "high animal welfare standards". The first aim of this review was to identify key areas where there are clear improvements in quality of life for dairy cattle housed under the EU organic regulations when compared to the conventional EU regulations. Using the available scientific evidence, our second aim was to identify areas where the organic regulations fail to provide clear guidance in their pursuit to promote high standards of dairy cattle welfare. The greater emphasis placed on natural living conditions, the ban of some (but unfortunately not all) physical mutilations combined with clearer recommendations regarding housing conditions potentially position the organic dairy industry to achieve high standards of welfare. However, improvements in some sections are needed given that the regulations are often conveyed using vague language, provide exceptions or remain silent on some aspects. This review provides a critical reflection of some of these key areas related to on-farm aspects. To a lesser extent, post farm gate aspects are also discussed
... Here amongst because non-domesticated calves have a strong social attraction to other calves from the age of 6 to 7 days, forming groups of up to 10 individuals in the wild [5], and because studies have shown that calves are more motivated to gain access to full contact rather than just nose contact with another calf [6]. Individual housing prevents calves from physical interaction such as play fighting with peers [7,8], and has been found to be stressful because it offers no social buffering in a period of their lives during which they undergo separation from the dam, start using a drinking apparatus, and are weaned [9,10]. Furthermore, the restricted social contact reduces or removes their possibility of learning social behaviours through interaction with other calves [6,11]. ...
Article
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Background The aim of this study was to investigate if calves’ play behaviour and non-nutritive sucking behaviour, as indirect measures of welfare status, are associated with the age of the calf when group housed, age when observed, age difference within the group, pen size, milk feeding system, current or previous sicknesses, access to dry teat, indoor/outdoor rearing, sex, organic/conventional farm, group size and regrouping events. An observational study was conducted on 176 Danish dairy calves in the age range of 1–12 weeks, on both conventional (n = 17) and organic (n = 5) farms. All calves had been group housed before 8 weeks of age and had spent various periods of time with the dam and/or individually housed before being group housed. Behaviour was recorded continuously by filming each individual calf over a period of 30 min. Results The calf’s age when group housed for the first time was not found to be significantly associated with duration of either play behaviour (P = 0.55) or non-nutritive sucking behaviour (P = 0.44). It was found that calves had significantly reduced odds of playing for longer than the mean play duration (5.5 s) for each day of their lives (OR = 0.97, P = 0.003). Also, they had reduced odds of performing non-nutritive sucking behaviour for longer than the mean non-nutritive sucking duration (145.5 s) when milk was allocated by drinker buckets fitted with a teat compared to by bowl or trough (OR = 0.06, P = 0.02). Conclusion No significant associations were found between calves’ age when group housed for the first time and play and non-nutritive sucking behaviour. It was found that calves’ play behaviour decreased with increasing age, and that non-nutritive sucking behaviour decreased when milk was allocated with a teat compared to no teat.
... Social housing is particularly important in the development of social behavior in dairy calves. Calves housed in pairs or groups exhibit preference for a penmate, compared with unfamiliar calves, in social preference tests (Faerevik et al., 2006;Duve and Jensen, 2011;Lindner et al., 2022), showing that social contact facilitates the development of social bonds. Effects of social housing may translate to differences in social ability following eventual group housing. ...
Article
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Although social contact between dairy calves has broad effects on their behavioral development, influences of calf social housing on human-animal relationships are less well understood, despite implications for longer-term calf management and welfare. We characterized human-animal interactions in 3 distinct testing contexts to examine effects of social housing on development of human-directed behavior. At birth, Holstein heifer calves were randomly assigned to individual housing (n = 17 calves) or pair housing (n = 17 calves; 1 focal calf/pair). A human approach test was performed twice in the home pen (wk 3 and 5 of life), within an open testing arena (13 × 7 m; wk 4 of life), and within group-housing pens 6 d after all calves were weaned, mingled between treatments, and moved to groups (4 calves/pen; wk 8 of life). For these tests, a human approached, and then extended their hand, over a 2 min period for home and group pen tests and a 5 min period for the arena test, and behavior was recorded from video. During preweaning human approach tests in the home pen, individually housed calves had shorter latencies to contact the human (22.4 vs. 45.1 s; individual vs. pair housing) and spent more time in contact with the human (80.5 vs. 41.1 s; SE = 9.9; individual vs. pair housing), with similar responses between repeated tests. In the arena approach test, individually housed calves spent more time oriented toward the human (134.6 vs. 81.3 s; SE = 16.5; individual vs. pair housing), whereas pair-housed calves were more likely to perform pen-directed non-nutritive oral behavior (60 vs. 40% of calves; pair vs. individual housing), suggesting differences in interest directed toward the human compared with the novel environment. We also found that total duration of human contact was correlated between the first home pen approach test and the novel arena test, but that specific response to human approach varied between testing contexts. Effects of treatment persisted during the postweaning group pen approach test, with previously individually housed calves tending to spend more time looking toward the human (53.0 vs. 30.0 s; SE = 9.4; individual vs. pair housing) and more likely to contact the human (47 vs. 12% of calves; individual vs. pair housing). Overall, these results show persistent effects of early life social housing on human-directed behavior which may have implications for longer-term management.
... Previous studies showed that housing milk-fed calves in a group can improve animal welfare benefits because it allowed calves to possess more space and perform social behaviors (Faerevik et al. 2006;Jensen et al. 1997). Individually reared calves exhibited little interest in contacting other calves, or they forcefully push other calves once social interaction is initiated (Duve and Jensen 2012;de Paula Vieira et al. 2012). ...
Article
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The importance of nutrient provisions and weaning methods for calves has been well established over the past few years, while as increasing interest has focused on contribution of animal behavior and their overall performance in production regimes. The present study investigated the effects of feeding methods and space allowance on growth performance, individual and social behaviors in Holstein calves. Twenty-four Chinese Holstein male and female calves were allocated to either an individual or group of 6 and fed either with a bucket or a teat. Milk replacer, calf starter, and Chinese wildrye were offered during the experiment. A fecal index used in the present study was defined as the total fecal scores/total number of calves in each treatment. The results showed that there was no significant difference among the 4 treatments in terms of feed intake, body weight, average daily gain, and fecal index. For the feeding behaviors, the ingesting milk time and ingesting milk rate were significantly affected by space allowance, while the feeding methods showed a significant influence on the bunting behavior of the calves. There was no significant difference among the 4 treatments in terms of licking fixtures, self-grooming, and lying down behaviors, irrespective of the feeding method or space allowance. However, sucking an empty bucket or the teat was significantly affected by the feeding method. Several selected group behaviors were examined in the present study, and similar values for sniffing the other calves, social grooming, and cross-sucking behaviors were observed. Overall, the present study demonstrated that different feeding methods and space allowances had a significant effect on the feeding behavior of calves, while the feed intake, growth performance, health condition, individual and group social behaviors were not significantly influenced. Furthermore, under intensified production systems, Holstein calves raised in a group may obtain a similar production performance, thus reducing management input and profitability compared with those kept individually. However, there may be competition during the feeding period.
... It appears the shortfall of lying and social tactile behaviors is compensated for with an increase in standing and comforting behaviors (self-grooming, scratching, rubbing, and stretching), for the OUT_I_MAN calves, which were frequently carried out in the outer pen structure in view of other calves. This suggests that OUT_I_MAN calves have a high motivation for social interaction (Faerevik et al., 2006). A notable increase in rumination was found from period 1 to period 2 across all systems, which is likely attributable to a correlation between increased age and rumen development facilitating this behavior (Swanson and Harris, 1958). ...
Article
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Housing and feeding are integral to calf rearing, and must meet calf needs while remaining functional for the farmer. This study compared health, behaviour, growth and labour requirements of calves housed in groups indoors and fed via an automatic or manual milk feeding system compared to calves manually fed in individual or group hutches outdoors. Seventy-six (49 Holstein-Friesian (HF) and 27 HF x Jersey) dairy heifer calves were balanced for birth weight (35.2 ± 4.95 kg), birth date (1 February ± 7.2 days) and breed. The experiment was a randomised block design with four treatments; i) indoor group housing with automated feeding (IN_AUTO; 12 calves/pen), ii) indoor group housing with manual feeding (IN_MAN; 12 calves/pen), iii) outdoor group hutch with manual feeding (OUT_G_MAN; 8 calves/pen) and iv) outdoor individual hutch with manual feeding (OUT_I_MAN; 6 calves: 1 per pen). Calves in OUT_ treatments moved outdoors at 18 days (± 5.9 days). Each treatment was replicated once. Milk allowance increased gradually from 6 L/day to 8 L/day (15% reconstitution rate) with ad-libitum fresh water, concentrates and hay offered from three days old. Gradual weaning occurred at eight weeks old. Measurements were divided into period one; before movement outdoors, and period two; after movement outdoors. Health was similar among treatments, regardless of period, with the most frequent score being zero (i.e. healthy). Summarised, standing and lying was observed 24.3% and 29.8%, respectively, in OUT_I_MAN calves, compared to 8.0% and 49.1%, for the other systems, which were similar. No difference in bodyweight existed between treatments, except at weaning where bodyweight was lower for OUT_I_MAN (67.4 ± 2.84 kg) compared to IN_MAN (74.2 ± 2.01 kg), and day 102 where OUT_I_MAN (94.1 ± 2.85 kg) were lighter than IN_AUTO (101.1 ± 2.10 kg) (P P=0.047). Total labour input was greatest for OUT_I_MAN (00:02:02 per calf/day; hh:mm:ss) and least for IN_AUTO (00:00:21 per calf/day) (P<0.001). The labour for feeding (00:00:29 per calf/day), feeding inspection (00:00:10 per calf/day) and cleaning equipment (00:00:30 per calf/day) was greatest for OUT_I_MAN. All calves showed good health and growth patterns. Differences in behaviour expressed by calves in the OUT_I_MAN, compared to other treatments may indicate compromised welfare. Thus, although outdoor group hutches do not negatively impact calves, indoor housing, particularly using automated feeders, can improve labour efficiency.
... The presence of companions can buffer adverse effects of stress. For instance, calves and heifers were reacting less to a novel and fear eliciting situation when they were with a companion than when alone (Faerevik et al., 2006;Boissy and Le Neindre, 1990) and horses were less fearful when they had been observing a habituated demonstrator completing a frightening task prior to performing the same task themselves (Christensen et al., 2008;Rørvang et al., 2015a). The disadvantages of keeping animals together in test situations are, however, potential social transmission of fear or induced curiosity caused by reduced fear. ...
Article
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 2 min each with an inter-trial pause of 2 min. 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 < 0.001). Sniffing duration increased at the subsequent presentation of a new odour (dishabituation; all 2nd vs. 1 st presentations: P < 0.001). All animals sniffed coffee and orange longer than water (water vs. coffee: P < 0.001 and water vs. orange: P < 0.001), but they also sniffed coffee longer than orange (P = 0.021). Licking or biting behaviour occurred only when presented with coffee or orange (13 out of 23 animals for both samples). The test showed that cows and heifers were able to distinguish between different complex odours (coffee and orange juice), and that the animals showed increased interest for one of the odours (coffee). This is the first example of a Habituation/Dishabituation test being adapted for and applied to cattle. The test may require further development, but represents the first steps towards exploring the possibility of using odours when adapting or enriching the environment in which we keep cattle.
... This result may indicate that bulls were stressed due to being relocated to a different building. However, although bulls in neighbouring pens were different, bulls were relocated within the same social groups which should have alleviated some stress (Faerevik et al., 2006). Another potential explanation for reduced performance may be housing design, such as ventilation and roof slope. ...
Article
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The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of using different floor types to accommodate growing and finishing beef cattle on their performance, cleanliness, carcass characteristics and meat quality. In total, 80 dairy origin young bulls (mean initial live weight 224 kg (SD=28.4 kg)) were divided into 20 blocks with four animals each according to live weight. The total duration of the experimental period was 204 days. The first 101 days was defined as the growing period, with the remainder of the study defined as the finishing period. Cattle were randomly assigned within blocks to one of four floor type treatments, which included fully slatted flooring throughout the entire experimental period (CS); fully slatted flooring covered with rubber strips throughout the entire experimental period (RS); fully slatted flooring during the growing period and moved to a solid floor covered with straw bedding during the finishing period (CS-S) and fully slatted flooring during the growing period and moved to fully slatted flooring covered with rubber strips during the finishing period (CS-RS). Bulls were offered ad libitum grass silage supplemented with concentrates during the growing period. During the finishing period, bulls were offered concentrates supplemented with chopped barley straw. There was no significant effect of floor type on total dry matter intake (DMI), feed conversion ratio, daily live weight gain or back fat depth during the growing and finishing periods. Compared with bulls accommodated on CS, RS and CS-RS, bulls accommodated on CS-S had a significantly lower straw DMI (P
... Proponents of individual housing prioritise calf health and trade this for other factors such as the calf's social needs (Stull and , even if fenceline contact to neighbouring calves is permitted (also see reviews by Faerevik 2003 andCosta et al. 2016). Conversely, calves form strong social bonds with their rearing-pen mates (Ewbank 1967;Bøe and Faerevik 2003;Faerevik et al. 2006;Raussi et al. 2010;Duve and Jensen 2011;Mandel et al. 2016), and group housing produces calves of a higher positive emotional affect (Duve et al. 2012;Valníčková et al. 2015), that gain more weight pre-weaning (Costa et al. 2015;Pempek et al. 2016) and that experience reduced growth check post-weaning (Chua et al. 2002;De Paula Vieira et al. 2010). While the expression of negative social behaviours such as aggression can be facilitated by group housing, the baseline prevalence of agonistic behaviour appears to be low (Veissier et al. 2001;Chua et al. 2002;O'Driscoll et al. 2006). ...
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Current research on factors affecting the welfare of dairy calves is predominantly based on indoor, year-round calving systems. Calf rearing in these systems differs from that in more seasonal, pasture-based dairy production, meaning that risks to the welfare of dairy calves may not always be comparable between the two systems. The aim of this review was to consolidate the scientific literature relating to calf welfare in pasture-based dairy systems from birth until weaning, allowing for (1) the identification of current and emerging risks to calf welfare and (2) the formation of recommendations to mitigate these risks. Many of the risks to calf welfare discussed in this review are not exclusive to pasture-based dairies. This includes a global trend for increasing perinatal mortalities, a significant number of calves failing to achieve effective passive transfer of immunity, the low uptake of best practice pain relief when calves are disbudded, and the feeding of restricted milk volumes. In addition to these persisting welfare risks, two factors discussed in this review pose an immediate threat to the social license of dairy farming; the separation of cow and calf soon after birth and the management of surplus calves (i.e. calves not needed by the dairy industry). Several recommendations are made to improve the uptake of best-practice calf rearing and progress the development of alternative pasture-based rearing systems that accommodate changing community expectations. These include communication strategies that strengthen farmer beliefs regarding the welfare and productivity benefits achieved by best practice calf rearing and challenge beliefs regarding the associated costs. Farmers should also be encouraged to benchmark their rearing practices through improved record keeping of key rearing inputs and outcomes. Biological research is needed to advise the development of new calf rearing recommendations and the evolution of existing recommendations. Research priorities identified by this review include the effects of dystocia on the neonate and strategies to mitigate these effects, relationships between features of pen design and calf health and welfare, feasibility of dam rearing in large pasture-based dairy systems, and strategies that increase the value of the surplus calf.
... Calves displayed considerable variation in the maximum weight pushed (Figure 2A). Some of the subjects may have been more motivated to be with their partner; calves have been observed to display strong, specific social preferences (Raussi et al., 2010;Bolt et al., 2017;Lecorps et al., 2019), influenced by familiarity (Faerevik et al., 2006;Duve and Jensen, 2011). In our study, calves only had access to a single, initially unfamiliar calf; future work should assess the strength of social preferences and the influence of age and familiarity on these preferences. ...
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Most dairy calves are housed individually in the first weeks and sometimes months of their lives. Lack of social interaction can negatively impact feed intake, social skills, coping abilities, and cognitive performance, but the motivation of calves to seek companionship has seldom been investigated. In this study, 10 Holstein bull calves (Bos taurus; averaging 5.4 ± 2.6 d old upon entering the study) were housed individually in a central home pen with access to one pen on either side, each connected by a push gate. One side pen housed another calf of similar age and the same sex, and the second was otherwise identical in size and resources (feed and water) but without a social companion. Each time the test calf pushed open the gate to access a side pen, he would be left in it until the next feeding (approximately 0800 and 1600 h), at which time he was returned to the central home pen. After each successful pushing event, additional weight was added to the gate (initially a small amount, then incrementally higher). All calves but one pushed for the first time on d 1 of enrollment (within 9.4 ± 14.8 min of experimental start); the remaining calf pushed on d 3 of the test. Each calf was tested for 15 d and we recorded the maximum weight pushed for both side pens. Calves pushed a higher maximum weight (and pushed more frequently) for access to the pen with a social partner compared with the empty pen. We conclude that calves are socially motivated, even at a young age, and that calves can benefit from access to social contact.
... For example, dairy calves living with an older weaned companion visited the starter feeder more frequently and gained more weight than calves in a single age group [129]. The older social companion may have facilitated social learning [55] and also provided social support (i.e., calves experiencing stressful situations may have derived support from other calves [130]). ...
Article
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One important type of animal welfare concern is “natural living” (i.e., that animals are able to express natural behaviours that are important to them, and to engage with aspects of the natural world that they find important). The aims of this narrative review were to describe the behavioural development of calves (Bos taurus) in natural settings and use this to identify characteristics of natural systems that may be important to consider relative to this natural living conception of animal welfare. At birth, calves are licked by their mothers and soon stand to suckle for colostrum, and during the milk-feeding period, calves spend much of their time lying down. In natural systems, calves perform a variety of social behaviours with herd-mates, and slowly transition from their mother’s milk to eating solid food, by gradually increasing time spent grazing and ruminating. In contrast, on most commercial dairy systems, dairy calves are removed from their mothers at birth, housed individually, fed restricted amounts of milk and weaned abruptly at a young age. The results of this review suggest that accommodating key natural behaviours, for example through the use of teat feeding of milk, social housing, and gradual weaning, can help address welfare concerns.
... Cattle are highly social animals, and under naturalistic conditions, form lasting bonds with conspecifics (Reinhardt and Reinhardt, 1981;Murphey, 1990). Moreover, social deprivation can impair coping ability (Faerevik et al., 2006) and cognition (Meagher et al., 2015). It is difficult to determine how welfare is influenced by restricted levels of tactile contact between tethered cattle. ...
Article
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Many dairy cattle worldwide are housed in tiestalls, meaning that they are tethered by the neck to individual stalls. On some farms, tied cattle are permitted seasonal access to pasture, but otherwise their movements are restricted compared with cows housed in freestall barns or other loose housing systems. The aim of this systematic review is to summarize the scientific literature pertaining the welfare of tied dairy cattle through comparison with less-restrictive housing systems. Articles identified by PubMed and Web of Science underwent a 5-phase screening process, resulting in the inclusion of 102 papers. These papers addressed measures of welfare related to affective state, natural behavior, and health (with the lattermost category subdivided into hoof and leg disorders, lameness, mastitis, transition disease, and other diseases or conditions). Health was the most researched topic (discussed in 86% of articles); only 19% and 14% of studies addressed natural behavior and affective state, respectively. Our review highlights different health benefits for tethered and loose cattle. For example, tied cattle experience reduced prevalence of white line disease and digital dermatitis, whereas loose cattle experience fewer leg lesions and injuries. The prevalence of mastitis, transition diseases, and other conditions did not differ consistently across housing types. We found that the expression of certain natural behaviors, particularly those associated with lying down (e.g., time spent kneeling, unfulfilled intentions to lie down), were impaired in tiestalls. Articles addressing affective state found benefits to loose housing, but these studies focused almost exclusively on (1) physiological measurements and (2) cow comfort, a concept that lacks a consistent operational definition across studies. We call for future research into the affective state of tied cattle that extends beyond these explorations and employs more sophisticated methodologies.
... Foto 13 -Možnost řešení kompetice ("strkanic") telat při krmení, Foto: Stanislav Staněk Stabilita skupin a věk telat při začleňování do skupin Kompetice a agrese mezi telaty ve skupině mohou být značně redukovány udržováním stabilního složení skupiny (Costa et al. 2016). Zachování stabilních skupin po odstavu telat od mléčných nápojů může být z hlediska chovatelského managementu značně náročné, ale omezení přeskupování zvířat na minimum vede k redukci agresivních a nárůstu pozitivních sociálních interakcí v porovnání s častějšími změnami ve složení skupiny (Faerevik et al. 2006). Jensen (2007) uvádí, že vliv na kompetici u krmení při začleňování do skupiny může mít také věk telat. ...
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Tato publikace se zabývá sociálním prostředím odchovu telat dojeného skotu. Jejím hlavním cílem je pomoci čtenáři porozumět principům sociálního chování, a tím výhodám a úskalím, které různě nastavené sociální prostředí přináší zvířatům a chovateli, a shrnout možné směry řešení v praxi. V publikaci popisujeme původní prostředí, ve kterém se skot formoval, ranou ontogenezi a fyziologii telat, které tvoří základ pro pochopení dané problematiky. Z praktického pohledu tvoří stěžejní část publikace kapitoly, ve kterých jsou popsány možné typy ustájení telat v rané fázi odchovu („Role sociálního prostředí v různých fázích života telete“) a problémy v odchovu telat související se sociálním prostředím a možnosti jejich řešení („Rizikové situace z pohledu sociálního prostředí“). This publication deals with the social environment in the rearing of dairy calves. The main goal of this text is to help readers to understand the principles of social behaviour and thereby to understand the benefits and the pitfalls, which different social environments bring to the animals and farmers and sum up the possible solutions in practice. In the publication, we describe the original environement, in which the cattle had been formed, and the early ontogenesis and physiology of the calves, which all makes a base for understanding the uderlying issue. From the practical point of view, the crucial parts of the publication are the chapters in which the possible types of calves housing in early stage of rearing (‘The role of the social environment at different stages of a calf’s life’)‚ and problems connected with social environment in calves’ rearing and possibile solutions (‘The risk situations from the point of view of social environments’) are also discussed.
... Skot si snadno spojí zvukový stimul s úkony, jako jsou zakládání nového krmiva nebo odchod do dojírny (Phillips 2002), což se dá dobře využít k tréninku zvířat, aby se s nimi dalo snadněji manipulovat, přehánět je, či učit ke vstupu do dojírny. Jako třešnička na dortu by se dal zmínit výsledek studií, které potvrzují pozitivní efekt pouště-né hudby na dojivost (Evans 1990), nebo na připravenost krav vstoupit do prostoru automatického dojicího systému (Uetake et al. 1997). ...
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Tato publikace předkládá čtenáři vybrané základní oblasti obecné a aplikované etologie skotu. Hlavním záměrem bylo vysvětlit souvislosti a zákonitosti chování krav, jejichž znalost může pomoci chovatelům, zootechnikům a ošetřovatelům v jejich každodenní práci. Shrnujeme aktuální vědecké poznatky o chování skotu s ohledem na jejich využitelnost v praktických podmínkách chovu a s cílem zvýšení celkové úrovně chovného komfortu a welfare chovaných zvířat. V oblasti aplikované etologie jde především o snahu pomoci chovatelům pochopit reakce skotu na chovné prostředí (ustájení, kvalitu chovného prostředí, technologie), ale i jednotlivé prvky managementu (ošetřování zvířat, dojení, výživu a krmení). S podporou znalostí z obecné biologie chování skotu tak lze dosáhnout většího prostoru pro projevování přirozeného chování zvířat, a tím jejich větší spokojenosti při dosažení stanovených produkčních cílů v podmínkách konkrétních chovů. This publication presents the basic areas of ethology and applied ethology in cattle husbandry. The main puropose is to explain the context and patterns of cattle behaviour. This information can help farmers, animals‘ caretakers in their daily work. We sum up the current scientific knowledge on cattle behaviour with regard to its usability in practical farm conditions in order to increase the overall level of comfort and welfare of farmed animals. In applied ethology, the primary focus is to help farmers understand the reactions of cattle to the breeding environment (housing, quality of breeding environment, technology), but also to the individual elements of management (animal care, milking, nutrition and feeding). With the support of this type of biological knowledge, it is possible to achieve a greater scope for the manifestation of natural animal behaviour and thus improve their welfare while achieving set production goals in specific farm conditions.
... In squids, anesthesia at the time of injury abolished the subsequent increase in defensive behaviour, suggesting that the acute nociceptive response is responsible for inducing this behavioural sensitization 4 . It is also likely that testing each calf alone induced anxiety 46 , which may have reduced our ability to detect treatment differences. Table 3. ...
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Injury can produce long-lasting motivational changes that may alter decisions made under risk. Our objective was to determine whether a routine painful husbandry procedure, hot-iron disbudding, affects how calves trade off risk avoidance against a competing motivation (i.e., feeding), and whether this response depends on time since injury. We used a startle test to evaluate this trade-off in calves disbudded 0 or 21 days previously and non-injured control calves. For 3 days, calves were individually habituated to the testing arena in which they received a 0.5 L milk meal via a rubber teat. On the 4th day, upon approaching the milk reward, the calf was startled by a sudden noise. We assessed the duration and magnitude of the calf’s startle response, their latency to return to the milk bottle, and duration spent suckling after startling. No treatment differences were observed in the duration and magnitude of the startle response or in the probability of returning to the bottle after startling. However, among those who did return, disbudded calves spent longer suckling, indicating they accepted more risk in order to feed compared to controls. In addition, calves with 21-day-old injuries tended to return to the bottle faster compared to newly disbudded calves and controls. We suggest that hot-iron disbudding increases calves’ motivation to suckle, as they were more likely to prioritize this behaviour over risk avoidance compared to control calves. This effect was most evident 21 days after disbudding, indicating that injury can produce long-term changes in motivational state.
... Recent work suggests that social interaction may improve calves' ability to cope with stressful situations, such as separation from the group or handling. For groupreared calves, the presence of a familiar calf during group separation resulted in fewer vocalizations and more exploratory behavior compared to calves separated alone or with an unfamiliar calf [39]. Group-reared calves struggled less during handling compared to both pairhoused and dam-reared calves [40]. ...
Article
Dairy bull calves may experience compromised welfare as a result of production practices and management techniques implemented on farm. This includes high disease incidence due to poor ventilation, pain experienced as a by-product of processing procedures, social isolation, and hunger from inappropriate nutrition. Although dairy heifer calves may experience similar issues, these conditions are often exacerbated for dairy bull calves due to the low economic value of the individual animal. In addition, given the bull calf will likely not remain on the farm, this group of animals are more likely to receive less adequate care in the first weeks of life. Welfare issues such as increased rates of dystocia, failure of passive transport, dehorning, castration, and long transportation distances are all critical and will be discussed in this review. Therefore, the objectives of this article are to (1) evaluate current welfare concerns specific to dairy bull calves, (2) identify areas for improvement to mitigate poor welfare outcomes, and (3) review proper euthanasia techniques and protocols specific for calves. Ultimately there is still much to learn about specific areas for improvement relating to the welfare of dairy bull calves and future studies are needed. However, the industry should properly manage the welfare challenges of bull calves, identify opportunities within the industry to increase their value, and uphold our ethical responsibility to these animals.
... Young calves actively seek companion animals (Holm, Jensen, & Jeppeson, 2002), suggesting they may derive social support benefits from the presence of other young conspecifics (Faerevik, Jensen, & Bøe, 2006). Unlike adult cows, calves prefer full physical contact with a partner over limited contact through the pen (Holm et al., 2002). ...
... European Union regulations indicate that group housing is mandatory for calves older than 8 weeks [8]. Benefits attributed to paired and group-housing are reduced labor requirements per calf [9], improved social behavior of calves [10,11], decreased fear for a new diet during weaning [12], higher intakes of starter feed [5], and increased weight gains [5,[13][14][15]. The selection of individual housing is frequently based on studies showing increased weight gains [16], decreased calf morbidity [17], and less behavioral issues such as cross-sucking in single raised calves [18]. ...
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Aim: This study was aimed at describing calf comfort and determining the individual and pen level factors that affect comfort status (in particular, calf leg hygiene scores) of smallholder dairy farms in Meru County, Kenya. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out on 52 calves that were up to 1 year old in 38 dairy farms (mean±standard deviation: Herd size=1.71±0.7 milking cows and milk production=6.7±3.1 L/day) in Meru, Kenya, in 2017, with the intention to describe their comfort and determine the factors associated with leg hygiene as a critical parameter for calf comfort assessment. Calves' biodata, health status, and leg hygiene were assessed, along with pen characteristics such as area, hygiene, and knee impact and knee wetness scores, while a questionnaire was administered to the farmers to gather information regarding calf housing management practices in the farm. Results: The calves had a mean body weight of 85.2±32.8 kg and average daily weight gain of 0.50±0.45 kg per day. 71% of calves had a good body condition score (≥2.5), and the mean space allowance per calf was 2.52±1.56 m2. Approximately 75% of the calves (39/52) were kept in pens, and the rest were reared outdoors. For 39 calves kept indoors, 26% (10/39) of them had wooden or concrete floors while 74% (29/39) had dirt floors. Nearly two-thirds (62%) of indoor calves (26/39) were reared in pens with bedding, and 23% (9/39) and 33% (13/39) of the calves reared indoors were kept in pens displaying a failed knee impact test and failed knee wetness test. Indoor housed calves had an increased probability of having dirty calf legs (cleanliness score of >2.5) by 8.6 times (p=0.031), compared to outdoor-housed calves. In the final multivariable logistic regression model of 39 calves in pens, concrete or wood floors (odds ratio [OR]=7.9, p=0.047), poor body condition (OR=17.1, p=0.020) and use of bedding (OR=12.5, p=0.046) appeared to be positively correlated with dirtiness of calf legs, compared to dirt floors, good body condition, and no bedding, respectively. Conclusion: Overall, some calf comfort aspects were covered for the majority of calves examined, but 69% of the pens were categorized as dirty, especially those with wooden or concrete floors and poor bedding management. Smallholder dairy farmers in Kenya should be trained on calf housing management to improve calf comfort and productivity.
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On-farm welfare assessment tends to focus on minimising negative welfare, but providing positive welfare is important in order to give animals a good life. This study developed a positive welfare framework for dairy cows based on the existing scientific literature which has focused on developing positive welfare indicators, and trialled a participatory approach with farmers; refining the framework based on their recommendations, followed by a vet pilot phase on farm. The results revealed that farmers and scientists agree on what constitutes “a good life” for dairy cattle. Farmers value positive welfare because they value their cows’ quality of life, and want to be proud of their work, improve their own wellbeing as well as receive business benefits. For each good life resource, the proportion of farmers going above and beyond legislation ranged from 27 to 84%. Furthermore, barriers to achieving positive welfare opportunities, including monetary and time costs, were not apparently insurmountable if implementation costs were remunerated (by the government). However, the intrinsic value in providing such opportunities also incentivises farmers. Overall, most farmers appeared to support positive welfare assessment, with the largest proportion (50%) supporting its use within existing farm assurance schemes, or to justify national and global marketing claims. Collaborating with farmers to co-create policy is crucial to showcase and quantify the UK’s high welfare standards, and to maximise engagement, relevance and uptake of animal welfare policy, to ensure continuous improvement and leadership in the quality of lives for farm animals.
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For farmed species, good health and welfare is a win-win situation: both the animals and producers can benefit. In recent years, animal welfare scientists have embraced cognitive sciences to rise to the challenge of determining an animal’s internal state in order to better understand its welfare needs and by extension, the needs of larger groups of animals. A wide range of cognitive tests have been developed that can be applied in farmed species to assess a range of cognitive traits. However, this has also presented challenges. Whilst it may be expected to see cognitive variation at the species level, differences in cognitive ability between and within individuals of the same species have frequently been noted but left largely unexplained. Not accounting for individual variation may result in misleading conclusions when the results are applied both at an individual level and at higher levels of scale. This has implications both for our fundamental understanding of an individual’s welfare needs, but also more broadly for experimental design and the justification for sample sizes in studies using animals. We urgently need to address this issue. In this review, we will consider the latest developments on the causes of individual variation in cognitive outcomes, such as the choice of cognitive test, sex, breed, age, early life environment, rearing conditions, personality, diet and the animal’s microbiome. We discuss the impact of each of these factors specifically in relation to recent work in farmed species, and explore the future directions for cognitive research in this field, particularly in relation to experimental design and analytical techniques that allow individual variation to be accounted for appropriately.
Preprint
Individual housing of dairy calves is common farm practice, but has negative effects on calf welfare. A compromise between practice and welfare may be housing calves in pairs. We compared learning performances and affective states as assessed in a judgement bias task of individually housed and pair-housed calves. Twenty-two calves from each housing treatment were trained on a spatial Go/No-go task with active trial initiation to discriminate between the location of a teat-bucket signalling either reward (positive location) or non-reward (negative location). We compared the number of trials to learn the operant task (OT) for the trial initiation and to finish the subsequent discrimination task (DT). Ten pair-housed and ten individually housed calves were then tested for their responses to ambiguous stimuli positioned in-between the positive and negative locations. Housing did not affect learning speed (OT: F 1,34 = 0.42, P = 0.52; DT: F 1,34 = 0.25, P = 0.62), but pair-housed calves responded more positively to ambiguous cues than individually housed calves (χ 2 1 = 6.76, P = 0.009), indicating more positive affective states. This is the first study to demonstrate that pair housing improves the affective aspect of calf welfare when compared to individual housing.
Chapter
Vocal communication plays a very important role in the social interactions of ungulates. Acoustic signals transmission is especially crucial for animals living in closed, dense habitats, where visual communication is comparatively more limited. For species in open habitats, however, visual displays are much more developed, though vocal communication does not lose its importance and plays a significant role in the ungulate life, especially for highly gregarious species. Ungulates employ different organs for producing sounds, with vocal cords used the most, along with the entire vocal tract including the mouth. In some ungulate species nasally produced sounds are more frequently used for communication, whereas in others oral signals of greater amplitude are more frequently employed. Many ungulates prefer to use a low formant of sounds in communication, utilizing a variety of specific morphological and behavioral adaptions. The main focus of acoustic communication in ungulates is to exchange information among conspecifics: to promote successful adaptions to their habitat and social environment, to help them to avoid danger, and to improve breeding success. In this review, I have primarily concentrated on Artiodactyls, although some comparisons with Perissodactyls are made. Four aspects of vocalization are considered: a. how ungulates produce sounds (sound-producing organs); b. why ungulates produce sounds (functional significance); c. vocalization variability among ungulates; d. evolutionary development (instead of conclusion).
Article
We investigated the single and combined effects of 2 feeding levels (normal lactation diet vs. energy-reduced diet, both fed for ad libitum intake) and 2 daily milking frequencies (twice vs. once) during 1 wk before the dry-off day (d 0), as well as an intramuscular injection of either a dopamine agonist (cabergoline; Velactis, Ceva Santé Animale; labeled for use only with abrupt dry-off, e.g., no reduction in feeding level or milking frequency before the last milking) or saline after the last milking on d 0 on the feeding motivation of clinically healthy, loose-housed, pregnant, lactating Holstein cows. From d 0, all cows were fed the same dry-cow diet for ad libitum intake. Cows were subjected to 2 feed-thwarting tests, a test in the home pen using their diets (test A: d −6, −1, and 1; during 35 min when the feed bins were filled, but locked) and another test carried out in an adjacent pen in which access to concentrate provided in a familiar plastic box was blocked by a wire-mesh lid (test B: d −5 and 2). In test A, we recorded how often cows attempted to feed per 35 min, whether cows vocalized during the 35-min period, and latency to feed within 300 s after feed bins were unlocked. In test B, we recorded latency to approach either of 2 familiar boxes (the wire-mesh box and an identical open box with a small portion of concentrate) within 600 s and how often cows directed behaviors toward the wire-mesh box (number of occurences/5 min). On d −6 (test A), no clear differences in feeding motivation among treatments were found. On d −5 and −1, cows fed the energy-reduced diet displayed a higher probability of vocalizing (test A), were more than 50% quicker to feed (test A), were approximately 5× quicker to approach a box (test B), and directed 60% more behavior toward the wire-mesh box (test B) than cows fed the normal diet. Moreover, cows fed the energy-reduced diet attempted to feed approximately 75% more on d −1 compared with d −6 (test A). On d 2 (test B), cows previously fed the normal diet directed 40% more behavior toward the wire-mesh box than cows previously fed the energy-reduced diet. Reducing feeding level, either before or on the dry-off day, resulted in consistently increased feeding motivation, interpreted as a sign of hunger. No clear effects of change in milking frequency, singly or combined with reduced diet energy density, on feeding motivation were found before d 0. Whereas, on d 2, cows previously milked twice daily were quicker to approach a box than cows previously milked once daily. Cows injected with cabergoline attempted to feed more, but showed lower probability of vocalizing compared with saline-injected cows (d 1; test A), irrespective of treatment before d 0. The effects of cabergoline on feeding motivation are not easily interpreted and warrant further investigation. From a hunger perspective, reducing milking frequency rather than diet energy density seems to be a less negative management to reduce milk production before dry-off.
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Most dairy calves are housed individually in their early ontogeny but there is an increasing interest in housing calves socially. Social housing has many positive effects on calf welfare including an advantage of social buffering, i.e., when negative effects of stress are mitigated through social support of familiar conspecific. So far, social buffering has not been tested in relation to stress after disbudding, a painful husbandry procedure performed in young calves. Therefore, the effect of pair versus individual housing on calves’ reaction to disbudding was investigated. In total 50 female calves housed either individually (n= 14) or in pairs (n= 36, 18 focal) were used. Calves were hot-iron disbudded with a local anesthetic and their behavior in home pens was recorded 24 h pre- and post-disbudding. Feeding, ruminating, resting, exploration, play, self-grooming, and pain-related behaviors were quantified during eight 20 min intervals during the 24 h periods pre- and post-disbudding. In pair-housed (PAIR) calves social resting, active and passive allo-grooming were additionally recorded. Concentrate intake was measured 24 h pre- and post-disbudding. The changes of pre- and post- disbudding behaviors as well as differences between individually housed (INDI) and PAIR calves were tested by general linear models. The differences in pre- and post-disbudding behaviors of PAIR calves were tested by paired t-test. We found that head rubbing (t=-5.14, P<0.0001) and head shaking (t=-3.33, P=0.004) increased after disbudding. Feeding increased only in PAIR calves (t=-2.95, P=0.016) which also resulted in a difference between treatments with PAIR calves fed more than INDI calves (F 1,18 =12.27, P=0.003). We did not find any other significant differences. Our results provide the first evidence that housing treatment affects calves' reactions to disbudding, with possible indication of social buffering.
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The ability of cattle to adapt to husbandry systems and routines is crucial for the functionality of the production. However, this ability can be compromised by our limited knowledge of their cognitive abilities, which may result in suboptimal husbandry and management standards. In this scoping review, we highlight three key topics of cattle cognition research that are currently understudied. We elucidate promising research areas from an industry point of view: transmission of information from cow to calf, mechanisms to attenuate fear, and processes involved in the human-cattle relationship. We review the currently available literature on all three topics and highlight potential pitfalls as well as promising future research questions. Future studies should focus on elucidating what and how much calves learn from their dam during prolonged cow-calf contact in dairy cattle. Such information could constitute an important part of the discussion of whether to keep cows and calves together for a longer time after calving in the dairy industry. Fear in the cattle group might be lowered by the use of calm companions and future studies could uncover if attenuation of fear might even be induced by conditioning positive experiences of cattle with unrelated stimuli e.g. odours. Lastly, the human-cattle relationship might benefit from utilising the already established training regimes from other species, e.g. positive reinforcement training or target training, which may have the potential to decrease risk of injury during handling for the cow and handler. Keywords: bovidae, cattle management, human-animal relationship, learning, social behaviour, welfare
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Mixing or regrouping of calves from different pens is a common animal management practice on the farm, which frequently occurs after weaning and has a negative effect on calve welfare. Social integration before regrouping may relieve stresses, but more evidences are needed to verify this hypothesis. The present study aimed to investigate acute physiological and behavioral variations of individually- or group-housed calves after being introduced into a mixed group. A total of 132 postnatal calves were randomly divided into groups of 1, 3, 6 and 12 animals (S, G3, G6 and G12; 6 replicates in each group) until 59 days of age. At 60 days of age, every two replicates from different groups (S, G3, G6 and G12) were introduced in a larger pen which containing 44 of the aboved experimental calves. Before and after regrouping, physiological parameters of stress, including heart rate (HR), saliva cortisol (S-CORT), saliva secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA), interleukin-2 (IL-2), interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) levels, and behavioral responses were recorded. After regrouping, HR and S-CORT increased immediately (P<0.05), and higher (P<0.05) levels of such molecules were found in S calves compared to group-housed calves. levels of SIgA and IL-2 were decreased (P<0.05), and the lowest (P<0.05) IL-2 values were found in S calves compared to group-housed calves. In addition, the introduced calves displayed a distinct behavior, including altered active and rest time, which was associated with negative emotions triggered by the novel surroundings. Allogrooming, play, exploration behaviors and lying time were increased significantly (P < 0.05) in group-housed calves than those of S calves. Conversely, self-grooming, aggressive behaviors, standing and walking time were increased (P<0.05) of S calves than those of in group-housed calves. These findings suggest that individually-housed calves may be more susceptible to stressors arising from regrouping than group-housed calves, which consequently negatively affected behavioral and neuroendocrine responses. Furthermore, moving calves with previous social experience may help mitigate regrouping stress.
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The early social environment can influence the health and behaviour of animals, with effects lasting into adulthood. In Europe, around 60% of dairy calves are reared individually during their first eight weeks of life, while others may be housed in pairs or small groups. This study assessed the effects of varying degrees of social contact on weaning stress, health and production during pen rearing, and on the social networks that calves later formed when grouped. Forty female Holstein-Friesian calves were allocated to one of three treatments: individually housed (I, n = 8), pair-housed from day five (P5, n = 8 pairs), and pair-housed from day 28 (P28, n = 8 pairs). From day 48, calves were weaned by gradual reduction of milk over three days, and vocalisations were recorded as a measure of stress for three days before, during and after weaning. Health and production (growth rate and concentrate intakes) were not affected by treatment during the weaning period or over the whole study. Vocalisations were highest post-weaning, and were significantly higher in I calves than pair-reared calves. Furthermore, P28 calves vocalised significantly more than P5 calves. The social network of calves was measured for one month after all calves were grouped in a barn, using association data from spatial proximity loggers. We tested for week-week stability, social differentiation and assortment in the calf network. Additionally, we tested for treatment differences in: coefficient of variation (CV) in association strength, percentage of time spent with ex-penmate (P5 and P28 calves only) and weighted degree centrality (the sum of the strength of an individual’s associations). The network was relatively stable from weeks one to four and was significantly differentiated, with individuals assorting based on prior familiarity. P5 calves had significantly higher CV in association strength than I calves in week one (indicating more heterogeneous social associations) but there were no significant treatment differences in week four. The mean percentage of time that individuals spent with their ex-penmate after regrouping decreased from weeks 1–4, though treatment did not affect this. There were also no significant differences in weighted degree centrality between calves in each rearing treatment. These results suggest that early pair-rearing can allow calves the stress buffering benefits of social support (and that this is more effective when calves are paired earlier) without compromising health or production, and sheds light on the early development of social behaviour in cattle.
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In this study, we analysed the effects of social and human contact on calves' behaviour and stress responses. We also measured the effect of this contact on calves' reactions to nove conspecifics and novel humans. Sixty-four calves were housed either alone or in pairs and received either minimal human contact or 'additional' human contact (stroking and talking). At six, 10 and14 weeks of age, the behaviour of the calves was recorded in their home pens.Calves were then tested in an unfamiliar arena either alone, with an unfamiliar calf, or with an unfamiliar man, and in a Y-maze with one arm leading to a calf and the other to a man. An adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) challenge was performed in order to assess chronic stress responses. Compared with individually housed calves, pair-housed calves were more active and made fewer contacts with their neighbours when in their home pens; they were also less active in the arena, spent more time near the calf in the Y-maze, and had lower cortisol responses to ACTH. Calves that had received additional human contact interacted more with the man in the arena and had lower mean heart rates than those that had received minimal contact. This study confirmed that calves feel a need for social contacts and that pair-housing can lower the stress felt by calves separated from their conspecifics. Additional contact from stock persons increases calves' likelihood of approaching humans but cannot compensate for their lack of social partners. Hence, when calves are separated, the duration of the separation should be limited, and visual and physical contact with other calves should be provided.
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We tested the ability of cattle to discriminate between socially familiar conspecifics in a Y-maze discrimination experiment. The discriminative stimuli were herd members tethered in the Y-maze side arms (stimulus heifers); approach to one of these was rewarded with food and approach to the other was unrewarded, and their positions were randomly swapped. Each of six experimental heifers was subjected to two pairs of stimulus heifers. All subjects reached the learning criterion (19 out of 20 consecutive choices to the rewarded stimulus heifer’s position in the Y-maze) with one pair of stimulus heifers. With the other pair, learning was slower and only three of the subjects reached criterion. All heifers that reached criterion chose correctly in at least five additional trials designed to control for cues emanating from the experimenter’s behaviour or from the food reward. We conclude that cattle can discriminate between individual familiar conspecifics, that they can learn discrimination tasks quickly, and that speed of learning and level of correct response can be influenced by the identity of the stimulus individuals. We also explored the experimental heifers’ behaviour during the learning process. Behaviours indicative of agitation were observed more often in the second task than in the first and also increased with time during learning tasks (P
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Social recognition among familiar unrelated lambs was assessed in a series of tests. Lambs and their mothers were housed together in small groups for 1 week (Original groups; O) then reorganized into new groupings (Recent-groups; R) for the remainder of the experiment. During test series 1, lambs that were paired with a familiar O-group partner, from which they had been separated for 5 days, emitted fewer distress bleats than did those tested with an unfamiliar partner. This same effect was not evident when the test was repeated several hours later, indicating that the animals had become habituated to the testing procedures. Two days later, when given the choice between an O- versus a R-partner (test series 2), lambs did not display a preference for either of the stimulus lambs. However, in an additional two-choice test (test series 3) the subject lambs responded discriminatively to a recent familiar partner that was simultaneously present with an unfamiliar lamb. Overall, the results suggest that lambs are capable of developing discriminative relationships with age-mates from different sub-groups, and that such social discrimination persists over a separation period lasting at least several days. It is not clear whether lambs recognize several individual conspecifics per se or discriminate between members of higher order social categories (e.g. familiar versus unfamiliar individuals). Proximal and distal social discrimination may be mediated by different combinations of sensory modalities.
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This study assessed the extent to which eating solid foods and social contacts influence nibbling objects and improve the welfare of veal calves. Animals were fed milk replacer only vs. supplemented with solid foods and were housed in individual stalls vs. together in pens. Time budget, reactions to handling in a weighing machine, growth, health (length of medical treatments) and abomasal lesions were assessed. In addition, chronic activation of the hypothalamo–pituitary–adrenocortical axis was evaluated after ACTH and CRF challenges, and that of the sympathetic nervous system, through activities of catecholamine-synthesising enzymes. The provision of solid foods reduced time spent nibbling objects and being inactive in proportion to and at the time of the increase in time spent eating and chewing. The calves housed together in pens had higher basal cortisol levels and they reacted to weighing. Health and physiological indices of chronic stress did not vary with feeding or housing conditions. It is concluded that nibbling in veal calves derives at least in part from a lack of development of feeding behaviour appropriate to ruminants. There was no clear evidence of poorer welfare due to feeding on milk replacer only or individual housing, but calves reared in groups seemed more stressed by handling than calves reared in individual stalls.
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The aim of this study was to determine the effects of rearing in individual crates on the subsequent social behaviour of calves. The calves (n = 32) were divided into groups of eight animals reared in crates until 19 weeks of age, eight reared in crates until 14 weeks of age and grouped together thereafter and 16 reared always in groups, which were re-allotted at 14 weeks of age. The social encounters were recorded on the days the calves were grouped at 14 weeks (intra-treatment mixing) and at 19 weeks, when created calves were mixed with those that had always been in groups (inter-treatment mixing). The social behaviour was then observed 1, 5 and 12 days thereafter. The data were analysed with Kruskal-Wallis and Mann-Whitney tests. After mixing at 14 weeks, more agonistic encounters and fewer non-agonistic encounters were observed in groups of previously crated calves than in groups of calves that had always been in groups (butts per calf per 2 h period, 6.6 vs. 1.8, P < 0.01; licks per calf per 2 h period, 3.9 vs. 7.5, P < 0.05). After mixing at 19 weeks, there were only slight differences between calves. The calves that had always been in groups achieved hierarchical ranks higher than crated calves in 14 out of 16 occurrences with calves crated until 19 weeks of age but in only 5 out of 16 occurrences with those crated until 14 weeks of age. It is concluded that the reduction of social contacts has short-term effects on the social behaviour of calves and that these effects can be reversed by mixing calves with similar social experience.
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Calves were either isolated, spatially but not visually, or group-reared for eight months and then kept together. Rank orders based upon competitive interactions were similar at eight and 20 months. Almost all group-reared animals were higher in rank than all isolation-reared animals. The most frequent nearest neighbour associations were between group-reared animals especially those from the same rearing group. Also frequent at eight months were associations between calves which had been isolated in adjacent pens. Isolation-reared animals associated infrequently with group-reared animals and spent more time alone. Body weight was not correlated with rearing conditions or with behavioural measures. Increase, or decrease, in rank between eight and 20 months was associated with faster, or slower, than average weight gain.
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Because of welfare concerns and increased labor efficiency, calves are increasingly housed in groups. To reduce variability in live weight within groups, farmers frequently regroup calves according to growth rate. We assessed the consequences of repeated regrouping and relocation on the welfare of 32 male Holstein calves housed in pairs. Animals of half of the pairs (regrouped calves) were placed in a new pen with a new partner once a week for 14 wk. Animals of the other half of the pairs (control calves) stayed in the same pen with the same partner. Behavior was observed for the 3 h following four mixings and for 24 h after all relocations were finished. The functioning of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and of the sympathetic nervous system were assessed. Calves were weighed once a week, their health was assessed daily, and abomasa were inspected when the calves were slaughtered. Calves reacted to the first mixing by interacting with the new partner and increasing their general activity (sniffing the partner in regrouped calves vs controls: 5.5 vs 2.9, P < 0.01; percentage time stepping: 3.2 vs 1.3, P < 0.001). This effect disappeared by the ninth mixing. After all relocations were completed, regrouped calves were more active at the end of the day and less active at night (P < 0.05). Cortisol responses to exogenous ACTH were higher in regrouped calves (integrated response: 6,688 vs 5,508 ng x min/mL, P < 0.01). Basal cortisol levels, ACTH responses to corticotropin-releasing hormone, activities of catecholamine-synthesizing enzymes (tyrosine hydroxylase and phenylethanolamine N-methyl transferase), and the incidence of health problems and growth rates did not differ between the two groups. Regrouped calves had fewer abomasal ulcers. Apart from the increased sensitivity of the adrenal cortex of regrouped calves to ACTH and the modification in the daily rhythm of activity, there was no clear evidence that repeated regrouping and relocation stresses calves. Aggression between calves was rare, and calves seemed to habituate to repeated mixing.
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This paper examines the behaviour of heifers over 12 days following weaning/housing at 7 months of age. Weaning consisted of separation from the dam and transport by lorry from pasture to indoor pens. The animals used were 10 Salers and 10 Aubrac heifers reared by their own mothers, 10 Friesian heifers fostered by Salers mothers and 10 Friesian heifers artificially reared. Frequencies of "resting chin", lying, standing, moving about and feeding were recorded over 24-h periods. Habituation to the new rearing conditions was reflected by an increase in the time spent "resting chin" or lying, a decrease in the time spent standing or moving, a reduction in the number of behaviour bouts and a strengthening of the circadian rhythm of activity. On the basis of these indexes, adaptation occurred by Day 2 in the artificially reared Friesians and by Day 4 in the other animals. Amongst these, the Salers habituated more slowly than the Friesians and more rapidly than the Aubrac heifers. Group differences were maintained up until the end of the experiment. Both the artificially reared and the suckled Friesians were less active than the Salers and the Aubracs and their activity profile was less fragmented. The Aubracs remained even more active than the Salers.
Article
To investigate the effect of social contact during early development on open-field responses and social responses, 80 female dairy calves were housed either in open single pens (SOpen), closed single pens (SClosed), calf-groups (GCalf), or groups of calves and cows (GCow) until 3 months of age. During the first 3 months, the calves were open-field tested at 2 and 10 weeks of age. Calves isolated in closed single pens (SClosed) performed more exploration during the open-field tests at 2 and 10 weeks of age than did calves housed in open single pens (SOpen). During the open-field test after the experimental period at 6 months of age, previously isolated calves (SClosed) had a longer latency to enter an open-field arena, and during a social test at this stage group-reared calves (GCalf and GCow) sniffed and mounted other calves more than calves housed in single pens (SOpen and SClosed). The results suggest that isolation increases the motivation to explore a novel environment, and that housing in groups facilitates the development of normal social responses.
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Three groups of l0 spring-calving Angus and Hereford purebred and crossbred cows were placed in drylot paddocks from mid-November until calving to determine the influence of mixing mature beef cows from two different sources on social behavior and stress. Two Angus cows from an outside herd (alien cows) were placed in each paddock, and eight cows selected from the resident herd were added I d later. Agonistic behavior was recorded during a total of 21 30-min observation sessions over a period of I 3 wk. Blood samples were drawn on days 2,28 and 84 after penning and analyzed for cortisol, glucose and differential leucocyte counts. Breed-origin influenced (P<0.01) social dominance values, which averaged 49.8, 48.7,40.1 and 35.0 for crossbred, resident Angus, Hereford and alien Angus cows, respectively. Alien Angus received the most aggression during the first observation period (0-36 d after mixing) and initiated less aggression throughout the study as compared to resident cows. Physiological measures did not differ due to breed-origin, group or sample day, but there was a significant sample day x breed-origin effect for cortisol (P< 0.01), with levels for the cows from the most socially subordinate groups, alien Angus and Hereford, increasing over the sample days. The increasing cortisol values may have indicated cumulative social stress on the social subordinates within the groups. Other physiological variables, however, did not show a similar trend. We conclude that when small numbers of cattle from different sources are mixed the aliens are at a social disadvantage, and we speculate that under some conditions social stress on aliens and(or) subordinates may be additive over time.
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Observations were made on four pairs of monozygous twins, one pair of dizygous twins, and on eight individually born cattle paired up as artificial twins from an early age. Each calf had been reared in a double calf pen with its pair mate from about two weeks of age until turning out to pasture (36–72 weeks of age). On pasture the cattle organized themselves into a herd in which the members of each pair were usually found close to each other. There seemed to be only a small difference in the occurrence of this behavior pattern between the monozygous twins and the paired cattle. It is suggested that this type of behavior may be controlled more by the mode of rearing than by the genetic makeup of the animals involved.
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Les interactions sociales, la répartition spatiale et le comportement lors d'une situation de compétition alimentaire ont été étudiés sur deux troupeaux de génisses constitués chacun par la réunion de 3 groupes de 4 animaux, placés ensemble soit à 6 mois soit à 12 mois. Les résultats obtenus sur ces deux troupeaux ont été comparés à ceux obtenus, au cours d'une précédente étude, sur un troupeau constitué par la réunion de 4 groupes de 4 animaux élevés ensemble depuis la naissance. Quelque soit l'âge auquel les animaux ont été regroupés, ils échangent moins d'interactions agonistiques entre eux qu'avec des animaux rencontrés plus tard; mais cette différence ne se retrouve plus 6 mois après la réunion des groupes constitués à 6 ou 12 mois alors qu'elle persiste au moins un an après la réunion des groupes d'élevage. De plus, les animaux réunis à 6 ou 12 mois sont plus agressifs entre eux que ceux élevés ensemble depuis la naissance. Ils ne sont pas spatialement associés (sauf lors de l'alimentation) contrairement à ceux élevés ensemble; enfin ils ne montrent pas de tolérance particulière lors d'une situation de compétition alimentaire. Il semble exister une période de sensibilité particulière pour la création des relations préférentielles entre les individus d'un groupe ; elle se situerait avant 6 mois chez les Bovins, et pourrait être limitée par l'apparition des relations de dominance.
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Mother cows prefer their female and male progeny over non-related calves as grooming and as grazing partners, even during the 4th and 5th yrs. Comparable personal attachments also exist between siblings. The ensuing family units are strikingly stable and cohesive. Interindividual associations lasting for several years are also found between non-related descendants of the herd and also between non-related cows. In natural cattle herds the social structure is based on matriarchal families which in turn are interconnected by means of friendship relationships between non- kin partners.-from Authors
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Heifers of the German Brown Swiss, Holstein and White Fulani cattle were observed before, during and after a training. Individual and social behaviour were observed while the animals were under free housing in the pen, grazing in the paddock and while filing through the crush and the passage leading to it. Plasma cortisol concentration determined by radio-immunoassay was not correlated with dominance rank, body weight or leadership order. Body weight was well correlated with dominance rank, but possession of horns gave the Fulani heifers some advantage. Re-arrangement of the order in which the heifers entered the crush resulted in significant decreases in the plasma cortisol levels (from 21 to 8 ng) which, thereafter, stabilized at low levels (5.8 ng) during the subsequent observation period. However, a change in the routine of some heifers by separation from their companions resulted in increased plasma levels (15.4 ng).
Article
We compared behavioural and cardiac responses to emotional stresses between familiar and unfamiliar heifers in groups of two or five. Fourteen Japanese Black heifers were divided into two experimental groups of two individuals (F2) and two groups of five individuals (F5) that were familiar with each other. Four additional Holstein heifers were used in forming the unfamiliar groups (UF2 and UF5), in which the focal animals had never been seen. Experimental animals were equipped with heart-rate monitors and led into a test room (5.5m×10.0m) at the experimental station. Each animal was tethered inside a single stall, and the focal animals were monitored by two video cameras. We designed three stress tests for the heifers: (1) a novelty test (encountering a strange object); (2) a surprise test (hearing a loud sound); and (3) a conflict test (trying to eat formula food). In the first test, a red paper doll was presented to the focal animal for 10min. In the second test, a tin bucket containing several weights was dropped from the ceiling (5m high) diagonally in front of the focal animal. Three minutes later, the third test was conducted by placing a feed bin containing food pellets covered with wire mesh in front of each animal for 10min. This series of tests was carried out in the order UF5, UF2, F5, and F2. There were the significant effects of familiarity on behavioural responses in the novelty and conflict test. Moreover, there were not only significant effects of familiarity but also a significant interaction between familiarity and group size on cardiac responses in the surprise and conflict tests. Especially, changes in the mean heart rate during the two tests were minimal in the group F5. Our results indicate that both familiarity and larger group size may reduce emotional stress, and the calming effect of affiliative groups of five may be higher than groups of two for cattle.
Article
The effects of social disturbance, by management practice, on behavior and performance of lactating heifers in a dairy herd were investigated. Two groups of 51 primiparous heifers in mid-lactation were used. Nearly half of the heifers in each group, including the three highest-ranking (Dm), three middle-ranking (Md) and three lowest-ranking (Sb) animals, were selected by angular dominance value (ADV) and the remaining heifers selected randomly. On Day 0, heifers were exchanged between the two groups.Regrouping prolonged the duration of standing and increased the frequency of shorter bouts of lying (≤ 15 min). At the feed bunk, the feeding of Sb was frequently interrupted by an attack of Dm. The average feeding time of Sb was significantly longer than that of Dm (P < 0.05). In the second week (Week 2) after regrouping, average milk production in regrouped heifers decreased significantly compared with the week before member exchange (Week −1) (P < 0.05) but no difference was found with heifers who were not regrouped. Among regrouped heifers, Week 1 milk production decreased to 96.5% of that prior to the exchange (P < 0.05) in those showing a decrease in ADV of more than 5. Week 2 milk production of subordinates also decreased significantly (P < 0.05) but that of dominants did not. Serum cortisol response at 30 min after 200 IU of ACTH administration on Day 14 significantly increased in Dm (P < 0.05) but did not in Md and Sb. Regrouping distressed heifers, especially among heifers of lowered dominance rank and subordinates, affected their production. Management practices that disturb social stability in a dairy herd should be avoided.
Article
32 dairy heifer calves were housed in one of four pen types: (1) a small single pen (0.9 m × 1.5 m); (2) a large single pen (1.8 m × 3.0 m); (3) a small group-pen (1.8 m × 3.0 m for four calves); and (4) a large group-pen (3.0 m × 5.4 m for four calves) until three months of age. Thereafter, all calves were housed individually in tether stalls which were 0.9m wide. Each calf was subjected to two test-sessions: one before tethering at three months of age and one at six months of age. Each test session included two tests. The first test was an open-field test with an unfamiliar calf present and the second was an open-field test in an empty arena. Behaviour and heart rate were recorded. Based on the data for the open-field test with an unfamiliar calf present, two principal components reflecting exploratory motivation and fear of unfamiliar calves, respectively, were defined. At three months of age, individually reared calves had higher scores for the principal component reflecting fear of unfamiliar calves. Principal components reflecting exploratory motivation and fear, respectively, were also defined based on data for the open-field test in an empty arena. At three months of age, individually reared calves had higher scores for the principal component reflecting fear in this test. The results suggest that individually reared calves are more fearful when introduced to a novel social situation and when isolated in a novel arena. Differences in space allowance did not affect the measured responses during the tests at three months of age. At six months of age, no effects of either social rearing or space were found.
Article
Consistency of individual variability in reactivity to a variety of fear-eliciting situations reflects the existence of an underlying psychological profile, currently labelled fearfulness, which can influence most fundamental behaviours. In farm conditions, fear-related reactions can lead to injuries or stress responses in animal, and waste of time or economic losses for the farmer. Nevertheless, fearfulness in farm animals has only been assessed in a limited range of situations and generally without any validation concerning the interpretation of the observed reactions. The aim of the present study was, first, to elaborate a set of experimental fear-eliciting situations for cattle in an attempt to interpret some reactions of the animals in terms of fear, and second, to examine the consistency of individual differences in reactions across these different test situations. Four tests, based on the presence of events classically reported to induce fear or anxiety, were designed. They consisted of exposure to a novel environment (i.e. open-field test), to a novel object, to food placed in an unfamiliar arena and to a surprise effect. Fourteen Friesian heifers were individually submitted to each of these tests. Rank order correlation coefficients were calculated between their reactions first within each of the tests and then across the different tests. The correlations within each test (except the open-field test) make it possible to interpret some behaviours as signs of fear. Furthermore, correlations between these tests show that the fear-related reactions are related (22% of all correlations being significant): the propensity for an individual to react excessively to a given test is thus related to its reactivity to another frightening event. Moreover, correlations between the fear-related reactions recorded in these previous tests and reactions observed in the open-field test suggest that behaviours involving inactivity (total duration of immobility and mean duration of immobility bouts) and inhibition (latencies to enter and to exit the test room) can be interpreted as expressions of fear in cattle exposed to an open-field test. The assessment of fear-related reactions in farm animals might be used to predict the individuals' ability to adapt to the constraints of husbandry and thus to improve the efficiency of production and possibly the animals' welfare.
Article
The effects of social contact and space allowance on the expression of play behaviour in domestic calves were studied. Forty-eight female dairy calves in three groups were housed in one of four pen types: (1) small single pen (0.9 m×1.5 m); (2) large single pen (1.8 m×3.0 m); (3) small group pen (1.8 m×3.0 m for 4 calves); and (4) large group pen (3.0 m×5.4 m for 4 calves). The behaviour of all calves was video-recorded for 8 h in week 2 and for 24 h in weeks 4 and 6 of the experiment. Data for play behaviour were obtained from each individual for all hours of observation. In weeks 4 and 6, space allowance affected the quantity of locomotor play. A low space allowance reduced locomotor play in both individually and group-reared calves. The quality of locomotor play was also affected. Elements of locomotor play that involve much movement were either absent or rarely seen in the small single pens. Furthermore, calves in single pens were less active than calves in group pens. The results of this study indicate that sufficient space is essential for the expression of play behaviour in domestic calves. It is suggested that play behaviour may be used to indicate the presence of good welfare in calves and in juveniles of other farm animal species. The use of a measure to indicate the presence of good welfare in addition to measures to indicate the absence of poor welfare may be a step towards a better assessment of welfare in farm animals.
Article
Hens were presented with a choice between a number of individual conspecifics in a multi-choice test arena. They chose to spend significantly more time aggregating with familiar conspecifics rather than unfamiliar conspecifics. The time spent aggregating with familiar birds did not significantly change from morning to afternoon while the time spent aggregating with unfamiliar conspecifics significantly increased. Unfamiliar birds therefore became familiar during the day, showing that experience affects subsequent choice.
Article
Choice testing utilizing a Y-maze has been successfully used to test animal preferences. In this experiment, 12 female Angus×Hereford×Simmental×Charolais heifers were given a choice of walking through a squeeze chute (crush) or being restrained in a squeeze chute. The objective of the study was to determine if previously learned choices in a Y-maze would confound future choices. A start box led to two races in a Y configuration. There was a hydraulic squeeze chute at the end of each race. Animals that chose the right side were allowed to walk through the squeeze chute and animals that chose the left side were restrained in the squeeze chute for 30 s. During eight choice trials, the heifers had a definite preference for the ‘walk’ side. There were 64 walk choices and 32 ‘restraint’ choices. For six additional trials, the restraint and walk sides were switched. Walk choices dropped to 16 and restraint choices rose to 56. The resistance to switching effect was significant (P<0.01). Significantly more heifers vacillated (looked back and forth) at the decisionpoint after the sides were switched (P<0.01). The switch had been perceived by the animals. There is a tendency for cattle to resist changing a choice once they are accustomed to a treatment being associated with a specific side.
Article
The first experiment investigated the learning abilities of different types of heifers and the capacity of familiar conspecifics to reduce their behavioural reactivity. Two groups of 12–15 month-old Friesian and Aubrac (French breed) heifers were used. Ten animals of each breed were tested individually: 5 alone and 5 in the presence of the two other group mates. Heifers were trained daily, using an operant conditioning method, to press a panel (conditioned response) in order to obtain food. The number of trials necessary for the animals to learn the response was recorded. Their reactions towards the novel conditioning apparatus and pairing the food with a stressful stimulus were measured in the first phases of the conditioning procedure. In the absence of conspecifics, Aubrac heifers learnt more slowly than the other animals. At the onset of the conditioning test, they exhibited more signs of disturbance towards fear-eliciting stimulation. The differences in reaction between the two breeds were explained in terms of different levels of social attachment and novelty of the surroundings.
Article
Evidence has shown that cattle have acute visual and auditory perception. This paper tests a proximate function of these two senses, and shows visual dominance over hearing in feed acquisition in Holstein cattle; moreover, they seem to possess a hierarchy of colors in connecting a color with feed. Subjects (15 calves about 6 months old) were trained, using operant conditioning, to push or touch a bar in response to compound stimuli, consisting of a 1 kHz pure tone at 75 dB spl and illumination of a 10 W white (incandescent), green, or red light which was presented every 10 s for 3.2 s. The cattle received grain as a reward. After performance had stabilized, the degree of each controlled response to compound and component (light and tone alone) was determined. Cattle responded more to light than to tone in all test groups; the total number of responses (±SD) to each stimulus were 17.2±1.3 (per 20 presentations) to white light vs. 10.3±2.3 to the tone (t=8/624, df=5, P<0.01), 18.7±0.5 to green light vs. 9.7±3.3 to the tone (t=3.576, df=2, P<0.08), and 17.7±2.6 to red light vs. 14.0±5.1 to the tone (t=2.079, df=2, P<0.18). The degrees of visual dominance, which indicates how much each of the light stimuli prevails over the tone stimuli, were 9.0 times in green, 6.8 in white and 3.7 in red. This may suggest a hierarchy of colors, in which green and white (incandescent) color is more attractive than red in food access for cattle.
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A repeated measure linear model was used to study the impact of rearing systems, individual versus group, on ethological and physiological response of crossbred ( ) calves during 1 h pre- and post-milk feeding in the morning as well as evening at different ages (2, 4, 6 and 8 weeks). Eighteen calves were taken in each group on the basis of their birth weight and housed individually ( per calf) or in group pens ( per calf). The calves were fed colostrum for 3 days and thereafter were allotted to standard milk feeding schedules, milk, 1/10th of body weight (BW) during 4 days to 4 weeks, 1/15th of BW during 5–6 weeks and then, 1/20th of BW to wean at 8 weeks of age. Calf starter and green fodder were fed ad libitum to all the calves beginning from the second week of age. Different behavioural activities like feed and water consumption, rumination, licking and cross-sucking, stereotypes, socialisation of all the calves were recorded. Group housed calves spent more time eating solid feeds (19.3 versus 14.4) with relatively higher dry matter consumption (399±35 g versus 330±33 g). The time spent in licking of inanimate objects (2.10 versus 1.37) and abnormal cross-sucking behaviours (4.8 versus 3.1) were higher in group than individual systems of housing. But the time spent for idle standing and sleeping/lying activities were more in individual housing (33.7 versus 25.9). Rumination was observed as early age at the 2nd week of age, and preferably for more time in group housed calves. Group housed calves spent less time for milk sucking (s/l of milk) during all periods of observations with an average of 30.10 compared to 41.97 in individually reared ones. The rectal temperature, respiration and pulse rate were not affected by housing system or feeding schedules. Early learning and increase in solid feed consumption, greater access to space and better social interaction elicit better welfare in group housed calves than the individual ones.
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Characteristics of a fear response in cattle include an elevated heart rate, and behavioural signs of agitation. Cattle exhibit this response when visually isolated from herdmates. Two trials were conducted to determine whether exposure to a mirror reduces the stress of social isolation of heifers confined within a weigh scale (Trial 1, n=41), and whether the response differs with a frontal or side-view of their mirror-image (Trial 2, n=38). Crossbred beef heifers (383.3±3.9 kg) were exposed to their designated treatments for 1 min each day for 10 and 5 consecutive days in Trials 1 and 2, respectively. During the exposure, heifers were confined in social isolation on a single-animal electronic scale. Remote telemetry was used to record heart rate in beats per minute (HR). The behavioural response (the amount of movement) was quantified by an electronic movement-measuring-device (MMD). The MMD monitors changes in voltage from the load cells of the electronic scale and records a peak when a trend in voltage is reversed. The greater the number of peaks the more the animal moved during exposure. Heifers exposed to a side-view mirror in Trial 1 had overall lower average HR compared to the no-mirror group (91.5±1.4 and 98.5±13 bpm, respectively; P
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A link between neonatal isolation and increased milk production has been reported for Holstein dairy cattle (Donaldson, 1970; Arave et al., 1985). This research proposes and investigates four mechanisms that might underlie this effect. Three hypotheses were unsupported: neonatal isolation did not affect social dominance, reproductive maturation or socialization to humans. A fourth hypothes