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A comparison of the early behaviour of intensively and extensively reared calves

  • Sheila G. C. Kerr (a1) and D. G. M. Wood-Gush (a1)


This study involved two groups of calves, one group consisted of eight Angus × (Friesian × Hereford) calves born in the late summer and kept with their dams in the field. The other group consisted of 20 autumn-born Friesian calves kept indoors in individual stalls. Similar ethograms and techniques were used to study their behaviour up to 8 weeks of age, thus allowing comparisons to be made of the proportion of time spent in various activities, as well as changes in the sequences of behaviour with age. In general, the activity of the calves of both groups showed a similar trend in development. However, the field calves spent significantly more time in investigatory behaviour while the confined calves showed a significantly higher frequency of investigatory behaviour and indulged in more self grooming. The analysis of behavioural sequences showed few differences in focal points or direction of transitions from one behavioural pattern to another, suggesting that the integration of activities into developing motor patterns in the calf is determined ontogenetically with little modification by the environmental factors encountered in this study. However, the confined calves showed a greater mean number of transitions per hour. The findings are discussed in relation to the welfare of the confined calf.



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Animal Science
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