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Personality of dairy goats affects competitive feeding behaviour at different feeder heights

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posted on 2023-05-03, 19:57 authored by Heather Neave, Gosia Zobel
The feed bunk is a place of high competition for dairy goats, and high variability in feeding behaviour occurs; thus, it is necessary to understand why individuals respond differently when experiencing different feeding conditions. The objective of this study was to determine how personality traits affect competitive feeding behaviours of goats when feeding at a range of heights. Thirteen goats were provided one of three feeder heights (floor-, head-, and elevated-level) daily in a group pen under competitive feeding conditions and behaviours after feed delivery were recorded. Personality traits were assessed from behavioural responses toward two novelty and two fear tests; principal component analysis revealed four personality traits that were consistent over time: bold, fearful, exploratory and active-escape. These personality traits affected competitive behaviours, and often depended on feeder height. ‘Bold’ goats initiated more aggressive interactions, especially behind the floor-level feeder, and had greater feeding times; the opposite was observed in ‘fearful’ goats, which more often waited for access to the feeder. ‘Exploratory’ goats were less involved in aggressive interactions and spent less time feeding at the floor-level feeder, and more time feeding at the elevated-level feeder. While the findings are limited to a single group of goats, our pilot study suggests that personality traits may explain variability in feeding aggression and feeding time of goats under competitive feeding conditions, and that these differences may be promoted by feed offered at different heights. Further work is needed in larger groups of goats to understand why individuals appear to cope with competitive feeding practices in different ways.


Rights statement

© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license


  • English

Does this contain Māori information or data?

  • No



Journal title

Small Ruminant Research




Neave, H. W., & Zobel, G. (2020). Personality of dairy goats affects competitive feeding behaviour at different feeder heights. Small Ruminant Research, 192, 106222.

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