UBC Research Data

Replication Data for: The effects of cow dominance on the use of a mechanical brush Foris, Borbala; Lecorps, Benjamin; Krahn, Joseph; Weary, Daniel; von Keyserlingk, Marina


An animal’s social position within a group can influence its ability to access essential resources such as food or a lying area, but little is known about how social position affects the ability to express what are arguably less important but still rewarding behaviors, such as grooming. We set out to assess if dominance measured at the feeder is associated with increased use of a mechanical brush. Over a 2-year period, 161 dry cows were enrolled in a dynamically changing group of 20 individuals with access to a mechanical brush. We determined dominance using agonistic behaviors at the feeder and retrospectively analyzed brush use for the 12 most, and 12 least dominant individuals during the week before calving. Cows that were more dominant at the feeder used the brush more, especially during peak feeding times. Agonistic interactions at the brush did not differ between dominants and subordinates and were not related to brushing duration. These findings indicate that social position, calculated using competition for feed, affects mechanical brush access such that subordinates use the brush less than dominant cows independent of competition or time of day.

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