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Behav Processes. 1987 Dec;15(2-3):333-43. doi: 10.1016/0376-6357(87)90017-9.

Observations on creche behaviour in suckler calves.

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The Faculty of Agriculture, Miyazaki University, Miyazaki 889-21 Japan.
A.F.R.C. Unit of Statistics, the University of Edinburgh, USA.


The créche behaviour of 16 Charolais-sired Hereford x Friesian calves and 12 Hereford-sired Friesian x Hereford calves was studied in a hill pasture over a 4 month period from June to September when the calves were 3-6 months old. Before being put onto the hill pasture in early May the calves had been penned indoors, from birth with their dams, in two groups. The number of hours of observation in each month varied from 30-36. Scan sampling and focal animal sampling were carried out. From the observations it was concluded that a creche was a group of calves each of which was lying within 20 m of its nearest neighbour. The distance between nearest neighbours was found to change with age. Big creches tended to be formed in the early morning while créches formed later in the day tended to be smaller in size except in the case of 5 and 6 month-old calves. The calves did not appear tó choose any special place for lying except in bad weather. Analysis showed that calves tended to lie with calves from the same original group and that there was a preference to lie with calves of their own cross. Females were more sociable than males and calves with a Charolais sire were more sociable than those with a Hereford sire.

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