Separation Behavior for Parturition of Red Angus Beef Cows


Increased predation losses in beef cattle in the Northern Rocky Mountains raise the importance of research concerning maternal behavior around the time of parturition. Separation behavior of multiparous cows at parturition was studied by measuring the distance (m) between the birth place and the main herd with a GPS device. Age of cows and forehead hair whorl pattern (HW) were analyzed as possible factors affecting separation distance. A total of 333 cows (95% Red Angus and 5% Angus × Hereford commercial crossbreds; age range: 3 - 6 yrs) were studied. Separation distance was determined by approaching the cow-calf pair with a utility vehicle that gradually decreased the distance to the pair. The geographic coordinates per pair were recorded and the separation distance was calculated as a straight line between each pair and the main herd. The HW on the forehead of each animal was used as a measure of individual differences in temperament. Age and HW were collected when the animals were held in a squeeze chute. HW was classified into one of six groups: high, middle, low, abnormal, multiple HWs and no HW. The age of a cow influenced the separation distance for parturition (P < 0.001). Four-year-old cows were on average about 150 m further away than other aged cows when calving. Eighty-eight percent of cows separated more than 100 m from the herd. The hair whorl position had no influence on the separation distance (P = 0.405). Distinct separation behavior for parturition was observed in this herd which appears to be an innate behavior that is influenced by the individual temperament of the cow.

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Flörcke, C. and Grandin, T. (2014) Separation Behavior for Parturition of Red Angus Beef Cows. Open Journal of Animal Sciences, 4, 43-50. doi: 10.4236/ojas.2014.42007.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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