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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

The Effect of Mother Goat Presence during Rearing on Kids' Response to Isolation and to an Arena Test

Winblad von Walter, Louise; Forkman, Bjorn; Hogberg, Madeleine; Hydbring-Sandberg, Eva

Abstract

Simple SummaryThe early permanent separation of mother and young in dairy production is the subject of much consumer concern. The aim of this study was to examine how early permanent separation, separation during the day only, or full-time access to their mother over two months affected goat kids, as measured by heart rate, saliva cortisol, and behavior during social isolation and exposure to a novel test situation. Our study shows that goat kids separated early permanent, separated daytime, or kept full-time with their mothers showed different responses to a challenge. However, it is difficult to say which of the treatments resulted in most fear and stress for goat kids during the tests. It seems that kids permanently separated from their mothers adapted to live in a group with other goat kids by the age of two months, while those separated daytime from their mothers demonstrated the strongest stress response. The reaction of goat kids kept full-time with mother fell between those of the other two treatments. In conclusion, the evaluation of stress responses is complicated, and our study pinpoints the importance of combining physiological with behavioral measurements.The aim of the study was to examine how early permanent separation, separation during the day only, or full-time access to the mother goat affected goat kids during social isolation with a sudden sound of a dog bark at two weeks and two months, and a novel arena test with a novel object at two months. Kids permanently separated reduced their vocalization earlier and had a higher heart rate before and after dog bark during isolation at two weeks, no effect was found on the daytime separated kids. Daytime separated kids bleated more at two weeks and decreased heart rate after dog barking at two months. Daytime separated kids showed the strongest fear reaction in the arena test, no effect was found on the permanently separated kids. Kids separated early vocalized more before novel object and showed more explorative behavior afterwards. Our study shows different responses in goat kids separated early permanent, daytime separated, or kept full-time with mother, which demonstrates the importance of if and how the mother is present, and the impact of using a wide variety of physiological and behavioral measures when evaluating stress in animal welfare research.

Keywords

animal welfare; behavior; caprine; cortisol; heart rate; fear; fear test; rearing system; ruminants; startle effect

Published in

Animals
2021, volume: 11, number: 2, article number: 575
Publisher: MDPI

Authors' information

Winblad Von Walter, Louise (Winblad Von Walter, Louise)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry (AFB)
Forkman, Björn
University of Copenhagen
Högberg, Madeleine
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry (AFB)
Hydbring-Sandberg, Eva (Sandberg, Eva)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry (AFB)

UKÄ Subject classification

Animal and Dairy Science

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020575

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/111189