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Behaviour and weight change of red deer calves during different weaning procedures


Applied Animal Behaviour Science 35(1): 23-33
Behaviour and weight change of red deer calves during different weaning procedures
Two studies were carried out to examine the effectiveness of confinement indoors and the presence of adult hinds in reducing stress in farmed red deer calves separated from their dams for weaning at 3-4 months of age. In a preliminary pilot trial, 30 male and 30 female calves were weighed and randomly allocated to five groups of 12 animals (six males and six females). Each group was assigned to a different treatment: not weaned, or weaned and then confined in a paddock or indoors for 7 days, with or without two hand-reared hinds added to the group of calves during confinement. Activities observed over 5 days following weaning differed between the groups. The unweaned group spent the most time lying in sternal recumbency, indoor groups spent the most time standing and eating, and the outdoor group without hinds spent the most time pacing the fenceline. Analysis of variance revealed that both confinement indoors and the presence of hinds improved weight gain over the 7-day period following weaning. In an experiment carried out to determine how the presence of hinds might reduce weaning stress, 90 calves were allocated randomly to 15 groups of six. The distance maintained by the calves from: (a) a human, and (b) a novel object was tested, with either no adult hind (n = 5 groups), or one of two hinds (n = 10 groups) added to the group. Groups with a hind present showed less fear of the human and the novel object, and the behavior of the groups varied according to the particular hind they were tested with. It was concluded from the two experiments that both confinement indoors and the presence of a hind were effective methods of reducing weaning stress, and that the hind reduced fear responses in the calves.

Accession: 002308893

DOI: 10.1016/0168-1591(92)90013-2

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