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Cohesive Relationships in a Cattle Herd (Bos Indicus)

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Cohesive relationships were studied in a semi-wild cattle herd and traced over periods of three to five years. It became evident that mother cows prefer their female and male progeny over non-related calves as grooming and as grazing partners. These associations could always be verified during the first three years and often during the fourth and fifth year as well, the descendants already being sexually fully mature. Comparable personal attachments also existing between siblings, the ensuing family units were strikingly stable and cohesive. Interindividual associations lasting for several years could also be found between non-related descendants of the herd but also between non-related cows. The analytical data led to the conclusion that in natural cattle herds the social structure is based on matriarchal families which in their turn are interconnected by means of friendship relationships between non-kin partners.

Affiliations: 1: Kenplains Wildlife and Research Ranch, Athiriver, Kenya


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