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Abstract

Effects of breed, calf age, sex, parity and season on suckling behaviour in beef cattle.

Abstract

68 Japanese Black (JB) and 10 Japanese Polled (JP) cows and their calves were studied over 24-h periods at 5 stages of lactation (10, 31, 60, 90 and 180 days post partum). Number of sucklings per day (NSD), duration of suckling per day (DSD) and duration of each suckling period (DSP) were analysed in 2 groups: 202 observations on BV and JP cows up to their 3rd lactation (Model I) and 314 observations on JB cows up to their 9th lactation (Model II). Data were analysed for the effects of breed, calf age, sex, parity, season and their 2-way interactions. NSD was affected by breed, calf age, parity, season, and interactions of calf age with breed and parity. NSD for JB and JP cows were 7.4 and 8.7 resp. NSD for JB cows was max. (8.9) at 30 days of age, and then declined to 4.8 at 180 days, but in JP cows, NSD declined gradually from 11.2 at 10 days to 5.6 at 180 days. Calves from cows in their 1st and 8-9th lactations suckled more frequently than from cows in their 4th lactation. DSD was affected by calf age, sex, parity and there was an interaction of calf age with parity. Overall mean for DSD in Model II was 79.2 min. The longest DSD was at 30 days of lactation (102.7 min). In model I, DSD for ♂ and ♀ calves was 79.7 and 73.5 min resp. The longest DSD was at 60 days in the 3rd lactation, but at 30 days in the first 2 lactations. DSP was affected by breed, calf age, sex, parity and calf, and there was an interaction of age with parity. DSP for JB and JP calves was 10.4 and 9.3 min resp. In Model II, DSP at 10 days was 7.8 min and did not change after 30 days, with a range from 11.2 to 11.7 min. The DSP of ♂ calves was unaffected by age after 30 days, but in ♀♀ tended to increase from 7.6 min at 10 days to 12.0-12.2 min at 90-180 days.