Modelling the Dynamics of Cow-Calf Dyadic Behavior

Modelling the Dynamics of Cow-Calf Dyadic Behavior

Luciandra Macedo de Toledo (Instituto de Zootecnia, APTA/SAA, São Paulo, Brazil), Thayná Barcelos Fernandes (Mestrado em Produção Animal Sustentável, Instituto de Zootecnia, APTA/SAA, São Paulo, Brazil), Mateus José Rodrigues Paranhos da Costa (Faculdade de Ciências Agrárias e Veterinárias, UNESP, São Paulo, Brazil) and Luis Alberto Ambrósio (Instituto de Zootecnia, APTA/SAA, São Paulo, Brazil)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/IJSDA.2018100101

Abstract

The dynamics of the first suckling is critical for the formation of the complex cow-calf dyad system, where interactions occur among animals and natural and anthropic environments. In this study, the system dynamics method was applied to build conceptual and computational models to better understand the dynamics of dyadic behavior and its interactions with the environment. The model showed that dyadic behavior is manifested by reinforcing feedback loops in which the calf stimulates the cow's maternal functions, which in turn results in caring stimuli towards the calf. Moreover, ecological factors affect the performance of the animals' behavioral system by influencing the rate of direct events for both, cow and calf. The cow-calf dyad model can be used in silico experiments involving animal behavior, which allows computational verification of dynamic ex-ante hypotheses in vivo experiments, thus reducing costs and honoring the ethical principle of minimizing the experimental use of animals.
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Prior Work

The period between calving and the first suckling is critical for the formation of the cow-calf dyad as well as for the calf’s subsequent development. Dyadic behavior is characterized by a positive feedback loop in which the calf stimulates the cow’s maternal functions and receives the care necessary for its full physical and psychological development. According to Paranhos da Costa and Cromberg (1998), the period between calving and the first suckling can be subdivided into three phases, according to calf behavior: Phase I - the period between birth and the moment the calf stands up; Phase II - the period between the moment the calf stands up and it finds the udder; and Phase III - the period between the moment the calf begins attempting to suckle and learns effective suckling.

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