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Nursing and cross nursing behavior of beef cattle in confinement

Canadian Journal of Animal Science 63(4): 849-854
Nursing and cross nursing behavior of beef cattle in confinement
Observations of 42 cow-calf pairs were collected over a 100-day postpartum interval to study the nursing and suckling behavior of beef cattle. Most calves (93%) displayed cross-suckling at some time during the study, but cows were slightly more selective (83%) in tolerating cross-suckling. Number of nursing events per day averaged 4.9 and time per event averaged 10.4 min. Number of cross-nursing events averaged 0.3 events per day and time per event averaged 5.0 min. About 61% of nursing took place from 0600-1800 h 39% from 1800-0600 h. The lowest incidence of nursing in the morning occurred between 0400-0500 h and in the evening, between 2200-2300 h. Cross-nursing followed a similar distribution with 74% occurring between 0600 and 1800 h and 26% between 1800 and 0600 h. The number of suckling events and time spent suckling per day remained relatively constant over the 100-day postpartum period. Conversely, cross-suckling gradually increased. The number of nursing and cross-nursing events per day and time spent nursing per day were unaffected by estrous behavior.

Accession: 006007244

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