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Schwan, Lottie, 2011. Social behaviour and time budget of breeding bulls. First cycle, G2E. Skara: SLU, Dept. of Animal Environment and Health



The aim of this study was to investigate the social behaviour and time budget of breeding
bulls kept at VikingGenetics, Falkenberg in Sweden when the staff was off duty. It was of
interest to see if there was any difference between bulls housed in group pens and bulls
housed in individual pens. It was also of interest to investigate if there was any difference
in the behaviour between the dairy breeds Swedish Red (SR) and Swedish Holstein (SH).

Sixteen bulls were used in this study. Eight bulls kept in individual pens and eight bulls
kept in group pens were used. The individually housed bulls had a social gate with wider
bars where the bulls could but their head and neck through to have social contact with the
bulls in its neighbouring pens. In each group there were four SH and four SR. Cameras
were mounted to record the behaviour of the bulls. The film material was saved onto hard
discs and decoded manually.

The behaviour and time budget of the bulls was analysed from the video between 16:00
and 22:00. The bulls’ behaviour was analysed during seven days, except for two bulls that
were only recorded for three days. Instantaneous sampling was used to investigate the time
budget with five minute intervals and continuous sampling was used to investigate social
behaviour. Mann-Whitney test was used for all the statistical analysis.

The group housed bulls showed significantly (p < 0,05) more pushing (median: 0.49 obs./h
compared to 0.05 obs./h) and mounting (median: 0.05 obs./h compared to 0 obs./h) whilst
the individually housed bulls showed significantly more of the behaviours licking muzzle
(median: 0.02 obs./h compared to 0 obs./h) and head through gate (median: 0.70 obs./h
compared to 0.11 obs./h). No significant difference was found in the behaviours licking
another’s body, licking another’s urine/penis, sniffing, butting, rubbing, chin pressing, head
to head pushing and being groomed/licked.

There were no significant differences in any of the social behaviours between the breeds.
The SR however showed a slighter higher frequency of the behaviours licking another’s
body (median: 0.25 obs./h for SR, 0.19 obs./h for SR) and licking urine/penis (median:
0.15 obs./h for SR, 0.07 obs./h for SH). SR also had a higher frequency of being
groomed/licked (median: 0.36 obs./h for SR, 0.31 obs./h for SH).

There were no significant differences observed in the time budget between the individually
housed bulls and the group housed bulls. The largest difference was seen in locomotion (p
= 0.19), where the group housed bulls moved more often than the individually housed
bulls. The three most common behaviours were lying ruminating followed by exploration
and being social. The median percentages of these behaviours were 52.2%, 18.2% and
6.8% respectively for individually housed bulls and 54.3%, 19.7%, 7.4% for group housed

It is concluded that there was no greater difference in social behaviour and time budget
between individually housed bulls and group housed bulls as well as between the two
breeds Swedish Holstein and Swedish Red. Due to this both housing systems seem to have
similar influences on these breeds of bulls.

Main title:Social behaviour and time budget of breeding bulls
Authors:Schwan, Lottie
Supervisor:Lidfors, Lena
Examiner:Hultgren, Jan
Series:Studentarbete / Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet, Institutionen för husdjurens miljö och hälsa
Volume/Sequential designation:367
Year of Publication:2011
Level and depth descriptor:First cycle, G2E
Student's programme affiliation:VK002 Ethology and Animal Welfare - Bachelor's Programme 180 HEC
Supervising department:(VH) > Dept. of Animal Environment and Health
Keywords:bulls, behaviour, housing, welfare
Permanent URL:
Subject. Use of subject categories until 2023-04-30.:Agricultural research
Animal husbandry
Farm layout
Deposited On:04 Jul 2011 08:22
Metadata Last Modified:20 Apr 2012 14:21

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