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Learned behaviours lead to bone ingestion by phosphorus-deficient cattle

Dixon, R. M., Fletcher, M. T., Goodwin, K. L., Reid, D. J., McNeill, D. M., Yong, K. W. L. and Petherick, J. C. (2019) Learned behaviours lead to bone ingestion by phosphorus-deficient cattle. Animal Production Science, 59 . pp. 921-932.

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Article Link(s): https://doi.org/10.1071/AN17251

Publisher URL: https://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/AN17251

Abstract

Grazing cattle deficient in phosphorus (P) often seek out and chew bones, apparently to obtain dietary P. To investigate this phenomenon heifers naïve to P deficiency were either fed a P-deficient diet (LowP) or grazed P-adequate pasture (AdeqP), and preference tests examined their attraction to weathered bones or a control of wood. During Phase 1 (Days 1–145), the LowP heifers developed severe P deficiency and pica, but demonstrated little attraction to weathered bones. During Phase 2 (Days 146–155), heifers were allowed to interact with and to chew a variety of weathered bones. After this experience LowP heifers were more attracted to bones during Phase 3 (Days 156–166) than during Phase 1 (P < 0.05), and more attracted than AdeqP heifers during either phase. Subsequently, in Phase 4 (Days 167–171), LowP heifers were more attracted than AdeqP heifers (P < 0.01) to weathered bones than to a control of wood, and in Phase 5 (Days 172–176) to bones with more extended weathering. During Phase 6 (Days 177–182), attraction was reduced when bones were placed inside a cloth bag. The olfactory constituents from weathered bones were dominated by aliphatic aldehydes and ketones, consistent with long-chain fatty acid breakdown. It was concluded that attraction of P-deficient cattle to seek and ingest bones is primarily a learned response. Smell, taste and visual appearance all appear to be important cues for attraction. Pica is likely important in causing P-deficient cattle to investigate unusual materials, including bones, resulting in cattle learning by making an association between bone chewing and P ingestion.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Animal Science
Keywords:bone chewing, learned behaviour, phosphorus deficiency, post-ingestive feedback.
Subjects:Animal culture > Cattle
Animal culture > Rangelands. Range management. Grazing
Animal culture > Feeds and feeding. Animal nutrition
Deposited On:20 Nov 2018 03:32
Last Modified:15 May 2019 03:26

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