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Mapping social behaviour in cattle

I. Freslon, B. Martínez-López, J. Belkhiria and others

Applied Animal Behaviour Science (2019)

doi: 10.1016/j.applanim.2019.01.006

• What did the research find?

The majority of the cows and calves were involved in relatively few social contacts. However, some individuals had a very high degree of interaction (predominantly cows in oestrus and male calves). Cows primarily interacted with cows of the same age, and higher parity cows were more likely to be involved in social contact than low parity cows. Male calves were significantly more likely to initiate social contact than females.

• How was it conducted?

Milking cows (n=170) and two mixed-sex groups of weaned calves of different ages (n=33 for both groups) were included in this study. Occurrences of sniffing, licking and rubbing the face on the genital area of another animal were recorded for three weeks in the lactating cows and for four weeks in the weaned calves. Based on those observations, social networks were created, and exponential random graph models were …

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