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Feeding behavior of Nellore cows and their pure or crossbred calves

ABSTRACT

The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of a calf's genetic group on the behavior of dam and calf. We used 24 Nellore dams and their calves, of which eight were Nellore, eight were 1/2Simmental 1/2Nelore and eight 1/2Red Angus 1/2Nellore. Grazing and rumination times, as well as suckling frequency and time, were measured. The straight bred calves suckled more often than the crossbreds (3.51 vs. 3.17 times/day), but their suckling lasted less time (7.37 vs 7.80 minutes). Suckling frequency, suckling length and total time spent suckling decreased as calf age increased. Calf grazing and rumination time increased with age; however, the cows' grazing time increased and rumination time decreased as the days postpartum went by. The crossbred calves grazed, on average, 18 minutes longer than the crossbreds, and the males grazed 16 minutes longer than the females. The male calves grazed, at 40 days of age, 25 minutes longer than the females, but this difference decreased as they grew and disappeared around 220 days. In conclusion, dam and calf behavior are influenced by the calf's genetic group.

Keywords:
crosses; grazing; suckling; rumination

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