Measuring sociability in dairy cows

Jenny M. Gibbons*, Alistair B. Lawrence, Marie J. Haskell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Sociability is the relative preference of individual animals to seek out close contact with conspecifics. The aim of this study was to develop suitable tests that could be used to measure the sociability of individual cows on commercial farms. A standardised runway test was used as a "gold standard" test of social motivation and was repeated three times on 46 focal cows. In the runway test, the average latency to reach 5 m and 2 m from the herd and the time spent in these areas were recorded and analysed for repeatability. Latency to reach the 5 m line over the three tests was the most repeatable variable (0.54) and was taken as a measure of social motivation against which to assess other measures of sociability shown by the cows in their home-pen. The home-pen measures were the distance of each cow to the two nearest neighbours, location of the cow in the cow shed, and the level of synchrony based on individual behaviour of each focal cow compared with the rest of the herd's behaviour. Cows that had high latencies to reach the 5 m line had fewer recordings with two near neighbours (W(1) = 5.31, P = 0.021), were less synchronised with the herd (W(1) = 4.82, P = 0.028), were not present at the feedface during peak feeding (W(1) = 4.13, P = 0.042) and stood at the periphery of the cow shed (W(1) = 4.03, P = 0.045). These results indicate that these measures could be used to assess the sociability of individual dairy cows in on-farm Studies. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-91
Number of pages8
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume122
Issue number2-4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2010

Keywords

  • Dairy cattle
  • Temperament
  • Sociability
  • Runway test
  • SOCIAL REINSTATEMENT BEHAVIOR
  • INDIVIDUAL VARIATION
  • DIVERGENT SELECTION
  • SPACE ALLOWANCE
  • JAPANESE-QUAIL
  • CATTLE
  • SHEEP
  • TEMPERAMENT
  • SYNCHRONIZATION
  • EVOLUTIONARY

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Measuring sociability in dairy cows'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this