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Skin Stimulated Induction of Mouth Movements in Catile

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Six animals in a free-ranging herd of ten Aberdeen Angus cattle showed mouth movements induced by skin stimulation by grooming of the sacro-coccygeal region with a horse grooming brush. Three of the animals reacted by mouth movements similar to stereotypic tongue rolling. Twenty-two (ie 37%) of 59 animals at a cattle show reacted by mouth movements when firmly scratched by hand on the skin in the sacro-coccygeal region and among these animals, significantly more beef breed cattle reacted compared to dairy breeds (P<0.02).

Stereotypic mouth movements of cattle including tongue-rolling, bar-biting and bar-licking are regularly observed in dairy cows and calves. Although it is generally accepted that these kinds of behaviour are behavioural stress reactions, scientific evidence related to the mechanisms behind these oral movements is scarce. In relation to animal welfare science these behavioural stress reactions are important because knowledge of the aetiology of the abnormal behaviour is necessary for the prevention and cure of the symptoms. The present demonstration of skin stimulated induction of mouth movements in cattle, similar to tongue-rolling, therefore seems interesting, as the discovery of such a behaviour may be used in further research on oral stereotypies in cattle.
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Document Type: Short Communication

Publication date: 1994-05-01

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