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Novel object response in beef cattle grazing a pasture as a group

Hirata, Masahiko, Arimoto, Chie
Behavioural processes 2018 v.157 pp. 315-319
Wagyu, beef cattle, cows, grazing, personality
This study was conducted to investigate how cattle (Bos taurus) respond to objects presented for the first time and repeatedly in a stimulus-rich environment where they can freely graze and interact with conspecifics. Twenty-five Japanese Black cows were subjected to three repeats of a novel object test in which animals stocked on a pasture as a group were exposed to the same and different objects across the test repeats. Responses of cows towards the objects were quantified by both approach (entering within a 0.5-m distance of the object) and contact (physical touch with the object) measures as occurrence (1 or 0) and number of reactions and latency to the first reaction. Cows were consistent in the approach to the first-time objects (repeatability = 0.39–0.62, Kendall’s W = 0.58, P < 0.05), but not in the approach to the repeatedly presented objects or in the contact with both types of objects (P > 0.05). Individuals which consistently approached the novel objects could be regarded as highly exploratory and/or bold in personality. Future work should consider novel object response in cattle across a range of contexts.