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Research article2004Peer reviewedOpen access

Training cattle to approach a feed source in response to auditory signals

Wredle E, Rushen J, de Passille AM, Munksgaard L


To help improve cow traffic in automated milking systems, we examined whether heifers could be trained to approach a feeder in response to a tone emanating from their collars. Eighteen dairy heifers were used in four experiments. Ten heifers were trained by operant conditioning. Eight of these heifers approached the feeder more frequently and with a shorter mean latency following the tone than in the control periods (P < 0.05). Four of the heifers were tested in a new location but none of the heifers approached the feeder following the tone. A further eight heifers were trained by classical conditioning. When tethered close to the feeder during training, no animals learned to approach the feeder in response to the tone. When four heifers were trained while loose in the pen and had a second tone that predicted an aversive treatment, the animals approached the feeder more often after the positive tone (P < 0.05). Operant conditioning can be used to train heifers to approach a feeder in response to an auditory signal. Classical conditioning procedures are less effective and the optimal training procedures need to be defined before implementation in automated milking systems

Published in

Canadian Journal of Animal Science
2004, Volume: 84, number: 4, pages: 567-572

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Veterinary Science
    Animal and Dairy Science

    Publication identifier


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