Using the conditioned place preference paradigm to assess hunger in dairy calves: Preliminary results and methodological issues

Camille Lafon, Michael T Mendl, Ben Lecorps*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

Abstract

Dairy calves are typically fed restricted amounts of milk. Although feed restrictions are predicted to result in negative affective states, the relative aversiveness of ‘hunger’ remains largely unexplored in this species. Here, we investigated whether the conditioned place preference paradigm can be used to explore how calves feel when experiencing different levels of satiation. This paradigm provides insight into what animals remember from past experi- ences, the assumption being that individuals will prefer places associated with more pleasant or less unpleasant experiences. Sixteen Holstein calves were either fed a restricted (3 L per meal totalling 6 L per day) or ‘enhanced’ milk allowance (ad libitum up to 6 L per meal totalling up to 12 L per day) in their home-pen. Calves were then placed in a conditioning pen for 4 h immediately after being fed their morning meal to allow them to develop an association between the pen and their state of post-prandial satiation. Calves were conditioned across four days with their satiation state alternating between days to allow them to develop an association between pen and satiation levels. On the 5th day, calves were individually allowed to roam freely between the two pens for 30 min. We expected that calves would prefer the pen where they previously experienced higher levels of satiation, but our results show no to limited effects of treatment. However, some methodological issues (colour and side bias) prevent us from drawing strong conclusions. We discuss reasons for these issues and potential solutions to avoid these in future studies.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere22
Number of pages5
JournalAnimal Welfare
Volume33
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2024.

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