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Pregnant cattle associations and links to maternal reciprocity

journal contribution
posted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 authored by David SwainDavid Swain, Kym Patison, B Heath, G Bishop-Hurley, A Finger
Cattle are a highly gregarious species that form strong social connections. Social support following calvingserves to increase offspring survival and conception rates for the following breeding season. It has beenshown that cattle change their association preferences following calving, but the correlation between social association and postpartum age class has not been explored. This study investigated the effect of postpartum age on association strength based on the amount of time pairs of individuals spent within close proximity as recorded by proximity logging collars. The associations of 58 mixed breed cattle werere corded over an 11 week period and associations analyzed within and between three maternal classes: maternal (calved prior to the beginning of the trial), pregnant and calved during the trial. There was a clear distinction in the association preferences between the maternal and pregnant cows: both cow classes associated more within their own maternal status than between statuses (maternal 181.47s, pregnant141.48s, between groups 91.62s, P < 0.001). Network analyzes showed both between and within group preferences for the two groups, with some individuals playing a prominent social role in connectingthe groups together. The cows that calved during the study showed an immediate change in association preference from the pregnant to the maternal group following parturition. The effect of this was correlated with age of calf; newly maternal cows preferentially associated with cows that had calves of a similar age.This study demonstrates that maternal status is an important determinant of association preference. The change in association patterns once a pregnant cow calves and the strong dyadic relationships between newly calved cows supports the notion that an offspring at foot might provide a motivation for reciprocity

Funding

Category 2 - Other Public Sector Grants Category

History

Volume

168

Start Page

10

End Page

17

Number of Pages

8

eISSN

1872-9045

ISSN

0168-1591

Location

Netherlands

Publisher

Elsevier

Language

en-aus

Peer Reviewed

Yes

Open Access

No

External Author Affiliations

CSIRO (Australia); Institute for Future Farming Systems (2015- ); School of Medical and Applied Sciences (2013- );

Era Eligible

Yes

Journal

Applied animal behaviour science.