Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Department

Agriculture

First Advisor

Katherine Koudele

Abstract

Early behavior work with dairy cattle focused on the agonistic interactions and dominance structure. This current behavior project focused on determining social preferences rather than dominance. Two lots of 130 Holstein cows at the Andrews University Dairy were observed 8 nights over the course of 6 weeks. Data was collected in the evening after milking and feeding to allow the cattle time to retreat to the freestalls to ruminant and rest. The ear tag number of each cow that was lying down was recorded on a diagram of the lot in which all the stalls were numbered. The data collected was statistically analyzed to determine if any cows lay near another specific cow repeatedly, more often than would be expected by chance. This was used to determine then if the cows at the Andrews University Dairy Farm have specific herdmates that they prefer to lie next to or near. The analysis showed that the cows did not lie next to the same cow a significant number of times. The cows that did were too few in number to be considered significant. Stall occupancy was also analyzed and the feed aisle sections of the lots were more frequently occupied than others potentially indicating greater desirability.

Subject Area

Cows--behavior., Cows--social aspects.

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