â€‹Do Cows Have Maternal Intuitions?
Do Cows Have Maternal Intuitions?
Many people wonder if cows have maternal instincts. Some cows seem to have a greater maternal instinct than others. Studies have shown that some cows are more receptive than others a week before calving. This is because the cow has a hormone pump primed to be receptive to any calf that comes along. Dr. Joseph Stookey of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, explains that while some cows become receptive immediately after calving, others may become receptive even a week before.
Prepartum isolation seeking behavior
A recent study suggests that the characteristics of the birth site are less important than the ability to move away from disturbances in determining maternal prepartum behavior. The findings suggest that the environment of commercial calving may hinder the prepartum motivations of maternally motivated cows. Further, the prepartum behavior of cows may be facilitated by providing them with an environment that fosters postpartum maternal behavior.
Although female ungulates have been observed to hide and be secluded during parturition, the purpose of this behavior is not clear. In fact, the term "isolation seeking" is often used to describe this behavior, though the exact definition may differ in one species. The term "isolation seeking" indicates that the goal of the behavior is to hide from potential threats and to give birth in a quiet place where she can bond with her young.
Isolation seeking behavior in American pasture-kept bison
Bison exhibit significant variation in parasite epg/opg in the gastrointestinal tract, ranging from near zero to more than three standard deviations above zero. While the median scaled FECs ranged from 0 to 1451 epg/opg, interquartile ranges (IQRs) varied widely between individuals. One of the most interesting findings of the study was that the bison most often tended to isolate when they were in a new environment.
In contrast, female ungulates have been shown to secluded or hide from their herds during parturition. While the purpose of this behavior is not yet known, it is most likely to serve as a place to avoid threats such as mismothering and mistreatment of young. In addition to hiding from potential dangers, such behavior also provides a comfortable, quiet environment for a mother to give birth and bond with her new offspring.
Isolation seeking behavior in zoo-kept sika deer
The invasive species Cervus nippon is widely distributed in North America, and its zoos are home to at least 39 states and four Canadian provinces. Despite the widespread distribution, transportation restrictions of sika deer are very severe. This study aimed to understand whether or not the invasive species can cause significant damage to their native habitats.
In nature, sika deer hide their offspring in dense vegetation. The zoo-kept species do not hide their offspring, but surprisingly give birth within their herds. Isolation seeking is also common in American pasture-kept bison. Bison often gave birth away from their herd when vegetative cover provided visual isolation, but gave birth within the herd when vegetative cover was not available. In addition, Thomson's gazelle females spent a long time searching for a place to give birth and usually travelled up to a mile to do so. Most of the time, they gathered in tall grasses away from the herd.
Isolation seeking behavior has been described in several other species of ungulates. It is believed that invasiveness is related to the degree of hybridization with red deer. However, this is not entirely clear. In zoos, female sika deer may exhibit different levels of hybridization than non-invasive populations, and their genetic status needs to be compared to those populations.
Isolation seeking behavior in dairy cows
Maternal instincts play a role in dairy cow behavior, and it's worth understanding why cattle behave in such a manner. For example, cattle move in herds and follow the leader, a trait called "social reinstatement" that can be used to relocate a herd without causing undue stress to the herd. Cattle that feel alone are more likely to seek escape routes, show nervous behavior, and even attack the handlers. To avoid these problems, place a companion herdmate in a nearby pen.
The effects of isolation seeking behavior on the milk production of dairy cows are not entirely understood, however. For example, separation from the dam after birth has a distressing effect on both the calf and the cow. Studies have shown that the longer the calf stays with its dam, the more adverse the separation effect is. However, separation occurs at an earlier age than two days, and cows' behavior is similar to that of other animals in the same context.