Degree project: Social habituation in cattle

Last changed: 15 October 2019

Is it possible to socially habituate naïve cows to fearful situations? Studies on horses indicate that in smaller groups it is possible to lower fearful reactions by adding just one calm companion.

This could be a very useful tool in the dairy industry in various fear-eliciting situations. The project will be divided into two parts: 1) controlled experiment, 2) practical experiments (observations) of potentially fearful situations for cattle such as e.g. Kosläpp, hoof trimming and insemination. A first experiment could consist of having 4 naïve (untrained) cows, to 1 trained (calm/habituated), and then expose the group to a fear-eliciting stimulus. The research question is then: Does the 1 calm companion reduce the fear reaction of the other group members? The project is part of a larger project and can be adapted to include the students own ideas.

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