Quantification of temperament in weaned deer calves of two genotypes (Cervus elaphus and Cervus elaphus x Elaphurus davidianus hybrids)

Pollard, J.C.; Littlejohn, R.P.; Webster, J.R.

Applied Animal Behaviour Science 41(3/4): 229-241


ISSN/ISBN: 0168-1591
Accession: 002681418

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In the 1st of 2 experiments, 30 male red deer (Cervus elaphus), weaned at 3-4 months of age, were kept in pens indoors in groups of 15. Behaviour was recorded during the following tests which were carried out from days 1-27 after weaning: time taken to feed in the presence of a human; time taken to sniff a new object; drafting order; aggression during feeding; isolation in a new pen with and without a human; individual confinement. Individual rankings within groups within the same type of test showed there was some consistency in individual behaviour. Principal components analysis showed behavioural variability in fear of humans and exploratory behaviour. In the 2nd experiment, 22 red deer x Pere David's deer (Elaphurus davidianus) and 34 red deer calves were tested in pairs of the same genotype on day 1 or 2 after weaning. Each pair was confined for 20 min in an unfamiliar pen, with a stationary human in the pen during the last 10 min of the test. Hybrid calves tended to avoid the human more and to be less active in the presence of the human compared with red deer calves. Hybrid calves nosed the walls and floor of the pen fewer times than red deer calves. Principal components analysis showed that the genotypes differed most in their nosing frequency and mobility within the pen, with hybrid calves nosing less than red deer at the same level of mobility.