Feeding, Resting and Agonistic Behavior of Pregnant Boer Goats in Relation to Feeding Space Allowance

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Abstract

The aim of this study was to test the effect of the animal to feeding place ratio on behavior of meat goats during gestation. In one group (FP-1.0; n=10) every goat had a single feeding place while in the other group (FP-0.5; n=10) two goats had to share one feeding place. Behaviors were analyzed with the continuous sampling method for 24 h for each animal. Social dominance index was used by ranking individuals as low-, medium- and high-ranking according to withdrawal and displacement behaviors. Total daily feeding duration decreased (P=0.001) from 5.2 h to 4.2 h by reducing feeding place. Feeding duration was neither affected by social rank (P=0.362) nor its interaction with feeding place (P=0.159). Feeding frequency was higher in FP-0.5 than FP-1.0 (P=0.001). Low-ranking goats had a higher feeding frequency (P<0.001). Resting duration (lying and standing) decreased in medium- and low-ranking goats in FP-0.5 (P=0.001) while all rank categories were similar in FP-1.0. Competition behaviors increased (P=0.001) in medium- and low-ranked goats in FP-0.5 but were similar between rank categories in FP-1.0. Feeding place and social rank had an effect (P≤0.009) on some of the agonistic behaviors. Agonistic interactions such as displacement, butting and ignoring were affected by the interaction of feeding place and social rank (P≤0.005). In conclusion, the reduction of the number of feeding places from 1.0 to 0.5 per goat in pregnant hornless Boer goats negatively affected feeding, competition, resting and aggressive behaviors, whereas low-ranking animals suffered more from competition and aggression behaviors.

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