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Tournaments in Valdostana cattle


Sartori, Cristina; Manser, Marta B; Mantovani, Roberto (2014). Tournaments in Valdostana cattle. Italian Journal of Animal Science, 13(3286):684-692.

Abstract

Cattle establish firm dominance relationships through ritualised fights. This study aimed at investigating behaviours involved in dominance relationships and effect of factors such as weight, age and repeated fighting experience in fighting dynamics. Subject of the study was the Valdostana breed, whose cows assess dominance relationships in traditional competitions. Tournaments consist in rounds in which cows interact in pairs to assess dominance. Only winners participate in subsequent rounds. An amount of 120 fights involving 145 cows was retained, and winners (51 cows) were considered as focal individuals. An ethogram of agonistic interactions was established, including behaviours of different agonistic intensity as physical interactions (pushes, clashes), displays (threats, vocalisations), and non agonistic approaches. A transition diagram of behaviours showed a tendency to express firstly non agonistic approaches and lastly more aggressive clashes. A mixed linear model analysis on traits like competition intensity, duration, and type of behaviours expressed showed a significant effect of age difference on behaviours. However, the most important factor was the number of rounds performed: from the first to subsequent fights agonistic intensity and physical contacts increased, and displays reduced. This may be due either to the fact that more aggressive individuals were likely to be the winners, or that in higher rounds the opponents were more similar regarding fighting ability or aggressiveness and thus more intense fights occurred. The increased aggressiveness after repeated situations of competition suggests that careful attention should be paid to welfare when animals are exposed to situations of high competition, like regrouping.

Abstract

Cattle establish firm dominance relationships through ritualised fights. This study aimed at investigating behaviours involved in dominance relationships and effect of factors such as weight, age and repeated fighting experience in fighting dynamics. Subject of the study was the Valdostana breed, whose cows assess dominance relationships in traditional competitions. Tournaments consist in rounds in which cows interact in pairs to assess dominance. Only winners participate in subsequent rounds. An amount of 120 fights involving 145 cows was retained, and winners (51 cows) were considered as focal individuals. An ethogram of agonistic interactions was established, including behaviours of different agonistic intensity as physical interactions (pushes, clashes), displays (threats, vocalisations), and non agonistic approaches. A transition diagram of behaviours showed a tendency to express firstly non agonistic approaches and lastly more aggressive clashes. A mixed linear model analysis on traits like competition intensity, duration, and type of behaviours expressed showed a significant effect of age difference on behaviours. However, the most important factor was the number of rounds performed: from the first to subsequent fights agonistic intensity and physical contacts increased, and displays reduced. This may be due either to the fact that more aggressive individuals were likely to be the winners, or that in higher rounds the opponents were more similar regarding fighting ability or aggressiveness and thus more intense fights occurred. The increased aggressiveness after repeated situations of competition suggests that careful attention should be paid to welfare when animals are exposed to situations of high competition, like regrouping.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Agonistic behaviour, Social dominance, Aggressiveness, Cow battle, Valdostana cattle
Language:English
Date:2014
Deposited On:18 Feb 2015 12:23
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 10:48
Publisher:PAGEpress
ISSN:1594-4077
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.4081/ijas.2014.3286

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