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Master Thesis

Effets de l'élevage en groupe ou individuel sur les performances cognitives des veaux laitiers

Abstract : Early social housing is beneficial for the health, the growth and the behavior of young dairy calves. The calves housed in pair 4 days after birth take more weight, vocalize less during weaning and get used to the group life and environment change more easily than calves housed individually. Pair housing may also benefit cognitive development, as it has been discovered on rats. The aim of this study was to determine the effects of housing of dairy calves on cognitive performance, from birth to 8 weeks of age. 4 days after birth, 16 Holstein calves were divided: 8 calves kept living alone and 8 calves were housed in pair. After 3 weeks, the calves were tested twice a day in an experimental wooden Y-maze allowing a choice between two options. The calves were first trained to discriminate between two colors (black and white) and then the stimuli were reversed and the calves were trained again to discriminate the colors. After, the calves had to discriminate between shapes (triangle and circle) following the same protocol. At 7 weeks the effects of housing during a novel object test have been tested. The results show that the calves are able to discriminate between colors and also between shapes. The housing has an influence on the calves' cognitive performance: the calves housed in pair show a better performance during the reversal than the calves housed individually. Concerning the novel object test, the calves housed alone need more time to memorize the object than the calves housed in pair. Early social contact helps them to develop learning and memorization abilities.
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Master Thesis
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Submitted on : Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 2:43:11 PM
Last modification on : Friday, March 19, 2021 - 12:44:01 PM
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Charlotte Gaillard. Effets de l'élevage en groupe ou individuel sur les performances cognitives des veaux laitiers. Sciences agricoles. 2012. ⟨dumas-00783116⟩

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