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Conference paper2008Peer reviewed

Effects of social environment on grazing behaviour and liveweight changes in first-season-grazing dairy calves

Hessle, Anna; Spörndly, Eva

Abstract

The aim of this study was to investigate if the foraging behaviour of naïve calves turned out to pasture was more effective, and losses in liveweight thereby diminished, when the calves were accompanied by grazing-experienced cattle. Twenty-six first-season-grazing dairy calves were turned out to semi-natural grasslands allocated into groups with or without the company of secon-grazing steers. The behaviour of the calves was automatically recorded for 24 h during their first day on pasture, and after having been on pasture for one month, and the average liveweight changes were calculated for their first month at pasture. Calves turned out to pasture in the comany of experienced conspecifics were more active during grazing as measured by accelerometer sensors (score 132 vs. 117, P=0.023) than calves turned out to pasture in groups of their own. However, the higher grazing activity was not confirmed by longer grazing time or diminished liveweight losses. In conclusion, the company of grazing-experienced conspecifics resulted in higher grazing activity in naïve calves, but no effects on liveweight change were found

Keywords

naïve grazer; turn-out; foraging; activity; weight gain; social learning

Published in

Grassland Science in Europe
2008, Volume: 13, pages: 120-123 Title: Biodiversity and Animal Feed: Future Challenges for Grassland Production
ISBN: 978-91-85911-47-9Publisher: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Conference

22nd General Meeting of the European Grassland Federation