Skip to main content
padlock icon - secure page this page is secure

Exploring heifers' perception of 'positive' treatment through their motivation to pursue a retreated human

Buy Article:

$25.00 + tax (Refund Policy)

This pilot study investigates dairy heifers' perception of 'positive treatment' by a human (stroking and brushing) through a test of appetitive motivation. The hypothesis was that positive treatment by a human results in heifers pursuing a human to seek further positive treatment. Thirty-seven dairy heifers were assigned to either minimal human contact or positive treatment during rearing for five minutes per week, for a total of four hours, between ages six to 24 months. Six months after treatment ceased, the heifers were tested in a suite of four sequential tests, conducted while free ranging in their home pen with a group of familiar conspecifics. The tests explored whether dairy heifers that received positive treatment had: 1) a lower flight distance than controls; 2) accepted initial positive treatment during the test; and (for those who voluntarily re-approached and interacted with the human after the human had retreated) whether this was due to 3) curiosity; or 4) motivation for further positive treatment. Positive treatment heifers had a lower flight distance in component 1 of the test and more of this group voluntarily approached the human compared to the control heifers. The positive treatment allowed more initial positive treatment (component 2) and sought further positive treatment in components 3 and 4. It is concluded that 'positive' treatment is rewarding for many heifers. It is suggested that positive treatment constitutes environmental enrichment of dairy cattle and can enhance cattle's quality of life and the human-animal relationship.
No Reference information available - sign in for access.
No Citation information available - sign in for access.
No Supplementary Data.
No Article Media
No Metrics


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2008

  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more