Behavior of Domestic Animals

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University of Massachusetts Amherst
Stockbridge Sch of Agriculture
George Howe

MATERNAL BEHAVIOR 1. Introduction A. Internal factors I. Hormonal and neural II. Genetic basis responsible for breed differences III. Hormonal—estrogen facilitates and progesterone inhibits IV. Neural—oxytocin for nursing, increase in oxytocin in cerebrospinal fluid to stimulate maternal behavior 2. Learning A. Seen mostly in higher primates, previous motherhood makes better mothers B. Concaveation—presence of neonates induces maternal behavior in virgin females and males I. Used to treat lamb and foal rejection 3. External Factors A. Stimuli from neonate (olfactory, visual) _________________________________________________________________ _ 1. Free Range Swine A. Day before farrowing, sow leaves herd and travels 50 meters-7 miles to build nest I. More building time on day of parturition B. Sow stays with piglets for first 2 days, then leaves to forage for short periods, nursing every 45 minutes I. After 2 days, piglets leave nest and sow rejoins herd C. Nursing causes a release of opiates so sows are less reactive to painful stimuli D. Sow eat placenta with little licking newborn E. Exhibit strong defensive reaction when piglets are threatened I. Barks, open mouth, attack 2. Domestic Swine A. Farrowing crates prevent sow from turning around/touching sides to protect piglets from being crushed B. Pens should have straw so sows can build nests before/after parturition 3. Piglets A. Use thermal, tactical, and olfactory cues to find udder vs. later born respond to suckling sounds of first litter mates B. Use olfaction to identify one another (1-7 days to learn this process) C. Weaned at 5 weeks, sow begins to aggress against piglets 4. Clinical A. Cannibalism—4% of piglet death, occurs in 18% of litters, immediately after birth B. Refusal to nurse—mastitis C. Early weaning _________________________________________________________________ _ 1. Sheep/Goats A. Maternal behavior important as most lamb mortality occurs within the first week of life B. 20% of ewes show maternal behavior toward other lambs—may result in lamb stealing 2. Behavior of ewe toward newborn A. Licking I. Simultaneously emitting a special parturition call (low pitched grumble) B. If lamb is inactive, ewe ceases licking I. Continue once standing, lamb yields distress call if licking stops C. Lamb attracted to odor, texture, and temperature of udder 3. Clinical Problems A. Poor maternal behavior in ewes in labor more than 30 minutes I. High cortisol levels=stress B. Breed differences I. Merino sheep m
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