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

Open access


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.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Abijaoude J.A. Morand-Fehr P. Tessier J. Schmidely P.H. Sauvant D. (2000). Diet effect on the daily feeding behavior frequency and characteristics of meals in dairy goats. Livest. Prod. Sci. 64: 29–37.

  • Andersen I.L. Bøe K.E. (2007). Resting pattern and social interactions in goats – the impact of size and organisation of lying space. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 108: 89–103.

  • Aschwanden J. Gygax L. Wechsler B. Keil N.M. (2009). Loose housing of small goat groups: Influence of visual cover and elevated levels on feeding resting and agonistic behavior. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 119: 171–179.

  • Averós X. Lorea A. de Heredia I.B. Arranz J. Ruiz R. (2014). Space availability in confined sheep during pregnancy effects in movement patterns and use of space. PLoS One 9: e94767; doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0094767.

  • Barroso F.G. Alados C.L. Boza J. (2000). Social hierarchy in the domestic goat: effect on food habits and production. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 69: 35–53.

  • Bøe K.E. Berg S. Andersen I.L. (2006). Resting behavior and displacements in ewes – effects of reduced lying space and pen shape. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 98: 249–259.

  • Conway M.L.T. Blackshaw J.K. Daniel R.C.W. (1996). The effects of agonistic behavior and nutritional stress on both the success of pregnancy and various plasma constituents in Angora goats. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 48: 1–13.

  • Cook N.B. (2019). Optimizing resting behavior in lactating dairy cows through freestall design. Veterinary Clinics of North America – Food Animal Practice 35: 93–109; 10.1016/j.cvfa.2018.10.005.

  • Corkum M.J. Bate L.A. Tennessen T. Lirette A. (1994). Consequences of reduction of number of individual feeders on feeding behavior and stress level of feedlot steers. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 41: 27–35.

  • De Vries T.J. Von Keyserlingk M.A.G. Weary D.M. (2004). Effect of feeding space on the inter-cow distance aggression and feeding behaviour of free-stall housed lactating dairy cows. J. Dairy Sci. 87: 1432–1438.

  • Ehrlenbruch R. Jørgensen G.H.M. Andersen I.L. Bøe K.E. (2010). Provision of additional walls in the resting area – the effects on resting behavior and social interactions in goats. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 122: 35–40.

  • Ferris C.P. Patterson D.C. Mayne C.S. O ’Connell N.E. (2013). Effect of feed space allowance and period of access to food on dairy cow performance. Grass and Forage Sci. 70; 59–70.

  • Fregonesi H.A. Leaver J.D. (2002). Influence of space allowance and milk yield level on behavior performance and health of dairy cows housed in straw yard and cubicle systems. Livest. Prod. Sci. 78: 245–257.

  • Fregonesi J.A. Tucker C.B. Weary D.M. (2007). Overstocking reduces lying time in dairy cows. J. Dairy Sci. 90: 3349–3354.

  • Harb M.Y. Vivien S.R. Campling R.C. (1985). Eating behaviour social dominance and voluntary intake of silage in group-fed milking cattle. Grass and Forage Sci. 40: 113–118.

  • Jørgensen G.H.M. Andersen I.L. Bøe K.E. (2007). Feed intake and social interactions in dairy goats – the effects of feeding space and type of roughage. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 107: 239–251.

  • Krawczel P. Lee A. (2019). Lying time and its importance to the dairy cow impact of stocking density and time budget stresses. Vet. Clin. North Am. Food Anim. Pract. 35: 47–60.

  • Lamprecht J. (1986). Structure and causation of the dominance hierarchy in a flock of bar-headed geese (Anser indicus). Behavior 96: 28–48.

  • Loretz C. Wechsler B. Hauser R. Rüsch P. (2004). A comparison of space requirements of horned and hornless goats at the feed barrier and in the lying area. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 87: 275–283.

  • Mirandadela Lama G.C. Mattiello S. (2010). The importance of social behavior for goat welfare in livestock farming. Small Rumin. Res. 90: 1–10.

  • Nielsen B.L. de Jong I.C. De Vries T.J. (2016). The use of feeding behaviour in the assessment of animal welfare. In: Nutrition and the Welfare of Farm Animals Phillips C. (ed.). Animal Welfare vol 16. Springer Cham.

  • Pascual-Alonso M. María G.A. Sepúlveda W.S. Villarroel M. Aguayo-Ulloa L. Galindo F. Mirandadela Lama G.C. (2013). Identity profiles based on social strategies morphology physiology and cognitive abilities in goats. J. Vet. Behav. 8: 458–465.

  • Rasmussen D.K. Weber R. Wechsler B. (2006). Effects of animal/feeding-place ratio on the behaviour and performance of fattening pigs fed via sensor-controlled liquid feeding. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 98: 45–53.

  • SAS Institute Inc. (2014). SAS OnlineDoc® Version 9.1.3. Cary NC USA.

  • Tölü C. Savaş T. Pala A. Thomsen H. (2007). Effects of goat social rank on kid gender. Czech J. Anim. Sci. 52: 77–82.

  • Vas J. Chojnacki R. Kjøren M.F. Lyngwa C. Andersen I.L. (2013). Social interactions cortisol and reproductive success of domestic goats (Capra hircus) subjected to different animal densities during pregnancy. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 147: 117–126.

Journal information
Impact Factor

IMPACT FACTOR 2018: 1.515
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 1.246

CiteScore 2018: 1.4

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.509
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.869

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 33 33 24
PDF Downloads 38 38 31