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Movement Orders and Leadership in a Semi-Wild Cattle Herd

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Stable movement orders have been found in a semi-wild cattle herd. Orders of voluntary movements (2-4 km to and from nocturnal resting site) were correlated with each other but not with the order of foced movement (dipping). The individual average travelling positions as well as their standard deviations showed no significant dependency on age or on dominance. A tendency for old (experienced) animals to walk in the van and for young ones to make up the rear was only evidenced during forced movement. Calves travelled in the neighbourhood of their dams. It was concluded that the conservative retainment of particular movement positions is primed by matrilineal tradition. The single adult bull consistently walked in the rear group of the moving mob. It was only during encounters with strange cattle that he temporarily took the leadership and actively hindered his animals from mixing with the other herd. Each kind of herd movement was preceded by a different leader cow who regularly walked on position No. 1. During voluntary movements the herd showed a certain dependency on its leader, and it was up to her to make the decision when to start moving away from one location and which direction to choose. In cow Alma spatial leadership was traced over a period of five years. Leadership showed no strict dependency on age or dominance.

Affiliations: 1: (Institut für Anatomie, Physiologie und Hygiene der Haustiere, Bonn, B.R.D.

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