Effects of social facilitation for locating feeding sites by cattle in an eight-arm radial maze

Derek W. Bailey, Larry D. Howery, Darrin L. Boss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


A study was conducted in an eight-arm radial maze to determine if cattle with various foraging experiences could facilitate location of feeding sites by other cattle. Heifers assigned as 'followers' (n = 24) were initially trained to expect straw at the end of each arm. Initial training of heifers assigned as 'leaders' (n = 12) differed based on the three following treatments: (1) no-experience, (2) barley in the same two arms, and (3) barley in two arms but locations changed daily. During training, leaders with barley in fixed locations foraged more efficiently by traveling to fewer (P < 0.05) arm ends to find barley than leaders in the variable treatment. After training, two followers were placed in the maze with a leader, and barley was available in two arms. Leaders facilitated the location of barley by followers. In 61% of the occasions that followers first found barley, leaders were at the feeding site. Eighty-one percent of followers later located barley without leaders in the maze. Followers with experienced leaders did not find barley consistently more often than heifers with inexperienced leaders. Cattle can apparently learn feeding site locations from other animals, but additional research is needed to evaluate the behavioral mechanisms that influence social facilitation during foraging. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-105
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 10 2000


  • Behavior
  • Cattle
  • Foraging
  • Social facilitation
  • Spatial memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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