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Characteristics of Estrus in Captive Elk 1)

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image of Behaviour

Groups of wild cow elk were confined during the breeding season in 1954, 1955, and 1956. A bull was introduced to the cow pen each day and all behavior observed. The use of a vasectomized bull in the early part of the season permitted recurrence of estrus. The approach of estrus was not predictable by any characteristics of the bull or cow. In most instances, sexual receptivity in the cow seemed to commence abruptly. A typical manner of behavior in the sexually receptive cow was described. Copulation required an average of 4 mountings by the bull in a period which averaged 7 minutes. Postcopulatory behavior in which a vaginal discharge was voided was described. Evidence was obtained which indicated that elk may remain in heat for 17 hours. The average interval of recurrent estrus was 21.2 days. One cow apparently had 4 recurrent estrums, 3 other cows had 3 each.

Affiliations: 1: Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Boise, Idaho


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