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.: Home > Animal Science Papers and Reports > 2011 > Volume 29 Number 2 > Monika Budzyٌska*, Wanda Krupa

Relation between fearfulness level and maternal behaviour in Arab mares

Monika Budzyٌska*, Wanda Krupa
Department of Ethology and Technological Basis of Animal Production, University of Life Sciences in Lublin, Akademicka 13, 20 950 Lublin, Poland
Abstract :

The study aimed at testing the hypothesis that mares’ fearfulness is a potential factor differentiating
the level of their maternal behaviour. Twenty purebred Arab mares were used. In part one of the
study fearfulness of mares without foals was assessed by their behavioural reactivity and heart rate
in response to rotating black-white squares (fearfulness test). On that basis the mares were classified
into three groups: (1) fearless, n=8, (2) medium-fearful, n=7 and (3) fearful, n=5. In part two,
maternal behaviour of mares was assessed in two sessions of separation test: 3 min dam’s partial
separation from foal (mare out of box, but with visual, auditory and olfactory contact with foal) and
3 min full separation (mare out of stable, no contact with foal). Locomotor activity, vocalization and
defecation frequency as well as heart rate in mares were recorded during both separation tests. The
results showed a relation between mares’ fearfulness and their maternal behaviour. Fearless dams
vocalized more (10.63±5.32, mean rank 13.00, P<0.05) and showed higher heart rate (138.00±22.66
beats/min, mean rank 15.40, P<0.05) when totally separated from their foals, compared to fearful
dams (4.00±3.74 calls, mean rank 6.10; 116.00±20.32 beats/min, mean rank 7.23, P<0.05). Thus,
fearless dams generally displayed higher maternal ability which is vitally important in successful
breeding. In conclusion, selecting for low fearfulness ensures appropriate maternal behaviour of the
brood mares.

Keywords :
fearfulness / heart rate / mare / maternal behaviour / vocalization

Date Deposited : 21 Jun 2011 16:14

Last Modified : 21 Jun 2011 16:14

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Volume 29, Number 2, - 2011

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