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Influence of various human - foal interactions on foals behaviour

Séverine Henry
D. Hemery
  • Function : Author
Martine Hausberger


Whereas the way animals perceive human contact has been mostly examined in pet animals, a small amount of investigations have been done in domestic ungulates. In the present study, we examined different early human-foal interactions. Three procedures were tested: 1) bringing the foal to the mare's teat in order to associate gentle human handling with food reinforcement; 2) exposure to a motionless person for 15 minutes during the first five days after foal's birth; 3) stroking the foal over the same period. We compared then the behaviour of foals which received one of these 3 additional human contacts at different ages to control foals that were exposed to humans only during routine procedures. Forty-three foals were involved in these experiments. The results indicate that forced stroking of foals in early life did not improve later human-foal relation. Thus, foals which were early stroked by the experimenter were not more willing to accept human contact at later ages (Mann-Whitney Utest: P > 0.05), while foals that were brought to the dam's teat, a unique human handling, even tended to avoid human approach at 2 weeks (Binomial test P = 0.055), and physical contact at 1 month of age (Mann-Whitney U-test P < 0.05). Conversely, a mere passive presence for short periods over the five first days of life indicated a slight, but not statistically significant improvement of the relationship. In addition, we have previously demonstrated that the use of the mare-foal bond was a simple, rapid and non-invasive way to establish a positive and durable relation with the foal.
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hal-01359878 , version 1 (05-09-2016)


  • HAL Id : hal-01359878 , version 1


Séverine Henry, D. Hemery, Marie-Annick Richard-Yris, Martine Hausberger. Influence of various human - foal interactions on foals behaviour. 40th Congress of the International Society for Applied Ethology (ISAE), University of Bristol, Aug 2006, Bristol, United Kingdom. ⟨hal-01359878⟩
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